Customers of three Regional District of Central Okanagan water systems may want to prepare for a planned electricity outage next week.
BC Hydro says the outage will last from 6:00 am to approximately 6:00 pm on Wednesday, December 7th, affecting more than 1,350 customers along Westside Road. The outage, subject to cancellation due to weather or other circumstances, is needed to make improvements to the distribution system.
The outage will impact operation of the Regional District’s Killiney Beach, Westshore Estates and Upper Fintry-Shalal Road-Valley of the Sun water systems.
Communications Officer Bruce Smith says, “With the planned, extended outage, we encourage our more than 600 customers on these systems, to conserve water: only using water when needed. If possible, they should avoid doing laundry and running dishwashers during the outage, as these appliances use large amounts of water.” He adds, “Given the advance notice, customers should stockpile some additional water for household use during the outage by filling their bathtub or adding additional water for drinking.”
Another reason for residents to conserve water during this period is that should any of the three systems run out of water, the Regional District will have to put out a Precautionary Water Quality Advisory until staff can flush the system and conduct bacterial and chlorine residual testing, which could take several days. Smith says, “We hope to avoid this by encouraging our customers to use water sparingly. We’ll be monitoring our systems throughout the day and will let residents know if any advisory is required.”
Interior Health advises that the draining of a reservoir can result in sediments being drawn into the distribution system and if any microorganisms have settled out into the sediments, they can be released at that time. There have been a number of cases where water systems have had positive lab reports when their reservoir was unintentionally drained due to a power outage, main break, or pump failure.
It says the loss of pressure can result in contaminant intrusion into the water distribution lines through cracks and leaks. This could put any individuals that consume the water at increased risk of gastrointestinal illness, particularly if the lines are close to septic discharges. This risk has been discussed in the Environmental Protection Association paper on the Potential for Health Risks from Intrusion of Contaminants into the Distribution System from Pressure Transients.
Smith says, “Depending on the location of a customer on a system, some receive water directly from the pressurized pipe on their street, while others get their water from the reservoir. When power is off for an extended period, system pumps can’t operate and users connected directly to pressurized pipes lose water shortly after the electrical outage, depending on where they are located within the system. Those connected directly to a reservoir will continue to get water until the reservoir supply is depleted.”
“Once electricity is restored and all pumps are working again,” Smith says “users directly connected to the pressure pipes will receive water fairly quickly once the system’s pressure returns. Those fed from reservoirs will take longer to get water service as it takes time to refill and replenish the reservoirs. If your water is cloudy please run the cold water tap until it clears.”
Affected customers can find information from BC Hydro on ‘Prepare Your Home for An Outage’ and ‘What to Do During an Outage, from Safety to Kids to Food’. Visit the BC Hydro's Outage website for the most up-to-date information on the outage and the estimated time for electricity restoration.
The Regional District operates and maintains water systems serving just over 900 properties in the following areas: Falcon Ridge, Killiney Beach, Sunset Ranch, Star Place/Dietrich, Westshore and Upper Fintry - Shalal Road - Valley of the Sun.
For information visit the RDCO website or contact RDCO Environmental Services via email or by phone at 250-469-6241. Subscribe online to receive Regional District water quality advisories or alerts by email.
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