Once unheard of, Kelowna has had two water quality advisories in a row | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Once unheard of, Kelowna has had two water quality advisories in a row

A view of Okanagan Lake from East Kelowna.

KELOWNA - The City of Kelowna is about to rescind the water quality advisory it announced earlier this spring when turbidity levels breached limits set by the Interior Health Authority.

The water quality advisory is only the second time since the cryptosporidium water-borne parasite outbreak in 1996 the City of Kelowna has had to warn its utility users about lake water quality — the first time was last year during the record 2017 floods, utilities manager Kevin Van Vliet said.

“I’m hoping it’s the last time, that this isn’t going to become normal for us,” he added.

While Okanagan Lake in 2018 never reach last year’s level's, Van Vliet said Mission Creek itself set records for volume of water during the freshet, spewing out sediment into the lake.

The city’s three main water intakes have been protected by their depth and the source, but Van Vliet said dredging done on Mill Creek in advance of this year’s freshet likely also contributed to turbidity problems, when “wind events” would stir up the cloudy surface layer of water with deeper water.

“It happened at Poplar Point intake which is unheard of,” Van Vliet said.

His fear is the weather-related flooding and related turbidity problems fit the predicted model for climate change in this part of the world — wetter, hotter springs and summers, with more flooding and fires.

Short-term, Van Vliet said the city hopes soon to close the Eldorado intake, located near the mouth of Mission Creek which was subject to severe sediment during this year's freshet.

While not directly related, Van Vliet said the announcement by the city of $12 million from the provincial government to fund transmission water main extension down KLO Road is part of the city’s longer term water plan to make the city’s water supply more resilient by diversifying its sources.

The Kelowna water utility serves 60,000 domestic water users, a number that’s set to grow as the city completes its $86-million take-over and expansion of the South East Kelowna Irrigation District.

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