Summerland area water system taxed by anxious residents near Finlay Creek wildfire | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Summerland area water system taxed by anxious residents near Finlay Creek wildfire

Smoke from the Finlay Creek wildfire between Peachland and Summerland, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017.
September 05, 2017 - 9:00 PM

PENTICTON - Property owners in the Summerland area taking preventive measures to protect their buildings from what they thought was an immediate danger from the Finlay Creek wildfire severely taxed the local water system on the weekend.

Cameron Baughen with the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen Emergency Operations Centre says they became aware very quickly of the potential for a serious issue to develop with the Faulder water system after residents were put on evacuation alert on Saturday, Sept. 2.

Baughen says the Faulder reservoir when from almost full to 20 per cent, which is below emergency levels.

“People were placing as many as five sprinklers per property on their buildings and had begun irrigating like crazy,” Baughen says.

Faulder wasn't under imminent threat, but the community was put on evacuation alert.

“We were advising them of the fire because neighbouring Meadow Valley was being evacuated as a result of the Finlay Creek wildfire, and there was a possibility of fire moving their way, but the reality was they weren't under direct threat,” he says.

Regional district staff went door to door Saturday evening to speak directly to residents about the issue, covering the community’s 90 households.

“Within two hours were were able to reduce the flow out of the reservoir to more normal levels," Braughen says. "We advised people not to panic and encouraged them to work with B.C. Wildfire personnel in the event sprinklers were needed."

Had the reservoir run out, the potential for damage to infrastructure was very real.

Baughen says pipes can be damaged, pumps will stop and there will ultimately be no water available for firefighting.

“In the event of a fire, naturally people want to protect their properties, but infrastructure can be overtaxed if everyone turns on the taps at the same time,” Baughen says, adding most residents were grateful the Regional District took the time to explain the situation.

Baughen says Faulder water comes from a well, which is then pumped to a reservoir and then gravity feds the water to residents. The system has undergone some expensive upgrades in the past few years, including a filter system to remove high levels of uranium from the water.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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