Oliver & Osoyoos  

Study finds treating Lake Osoyoos water cheaper than beleaguered groundwater system, at $51M

Surface water cheapest bet

Osoyoos’ Committee of the Whole will soon decide if building a new surface water treatment facility is the best course of action, after a study found treating Osoyoos Lake water is the cheapest option for its ongoing water woes.

The Town of Osoyoos Source Water and Treatment Feasibility Study, conducted by Carroll Engineers, has concluded treating surface water from Lake Osoyoos runs roughly $10 million less than continuing to treat the town’s beleaguered groundwater system.

According to a report by Jared Brounstein, director of operational services, surface water treatment would run a capital cost of $51.7 million, whereas the maintaining the groundwater system would carry a $61.5 million price tag. Meanwhile, the cost to operate both approaches is about the same at $1.1 million.

“The footprint and cost of a groundwater treatment facility has increased to the point where surface water (Osoyoos Lake) has become a more viable option to the community,” reads the report for the April 23 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Staff say Osoyoos water quality sampling has shown problems with manganese, iron, total organic carbon, and ammonia. Additionally, a 2023 treatment pilot study, conducted by RESEAU and the University of British Columbia, found that “groundwater is difficult to treat to meet compliance requirements.”

The community has struggled to maintain water quality objectives and requirements under the water operating permit.

If the surface water option is approved, council would then develop a funding model and phased construction over the next couple months. Construction of the project would be anticipated to begin in fall of 2025, and take two to three years to complete.

Osoyoos’ Committee of the Whole will vote on the development of a surface water treatment facility on Tuesday.

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