Vernon to discharge treated waste water into Okanagan Lake | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon to discharge treated waste water into Okanagan Lake

Vernon Water Reclamation Centre
Image Credit: City of Vernon
January 20, 2020 - 3:45 PM

For the first time in over 20 years the City of Vernon is set to release treated wastewater into Okanagan Lake.

Ordinarily, wastewater – also known as effluent or sewage – is treated and is pumped to the MacKay Reservoir near Commonage Road. However, the reservoir is currently full which means the City will now pump the treated wastewater through an outlet pipe which runs into the middle of Okanagan Lake seven kilometres southwest of Kin Beach.

City of Vernon spokesperson Christy Poirier said three consecutive years of wetter cooler summers has meant less water from the reservoir has been used to irrigate various sites and the MacKay Reservoir is now almost full. She said the last time the City needed to release wastewater into Okanagan Lake was in 1998.

Poirier said 12.3 million litres of wastewater is treated at Vernon Water Reclamation Centre and then pumped to the MacKay Reservoir. The water is used to irrigate several Vernon golf courses, Marshall Fields and some agricultural land. She said over the last three years there has been a significant decrease in the amount of water used in irrigation. Cooler temperatures, smoke from wildfires and rainfall have all meant less water was needed for irrigation, increasing the level of the reservoir.

While the treated wastewater started off as raw sewage, Poirier stressed the water is processed through a complex system leaving “high quality treated reclaimed water.” According to the City, an environment impact study in 2013 found the water processed at the Vernon Water Reclamation Centre to be “some of the highest quality treated reclaimed water” in B.C.

Poirier said pumping the treated reclaimed water into the lake is scheduled to start in February and the City is currently working with the Ministry of Environment to monitor when the discharge will finish. The pipe is located 60 metres under water,1.5 to 2 km from either shore.

Treated wastewater discharge is a common practice in the Okanagan both Kelowna and West Kelowna, as well as Peachland, Summerland, and Penticton discharging treated wastewater into Okanagan Lake or adjacent waterway everyday, the City said.

The City is offering the public a chance to take part in a guided tour of the Vernon Water Reclamation Centre Jan. 25. Tours will run at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and take approximately 90 minutes.

Space is limited and the public is asked to RSVP by sending an email to or by calling 250-550-3627 no later than 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 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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