Watching water in drought

Chelsea Powrie

The Okanagan Valley is now under a Level 3 drought warning as declared by the provincial government, which is something the City of Penticton is keeping an eye on.

The warning was issued by the province, and local water quality supervisor Michael Firlotte is taking it into account as he manages the city's water treatment plant. 

"It is voluntary restrictions, so we just have to be careful, because there could be some negative impacts," Firlotte said. "So we just gotta be careful that there's enough water out there to provide services for the public and for the ecosystem."

Low snowpack over winter months 

Penticton gets its water from Penticton Creek and shares water from Okanagan Lake with the City of Kelowna.

"We really monitor their restrictions, and when they make moves, so do we," Firlotte said. 

But it's not just about the amount of water used. A lot of energy is expended to make the water that comes through the Penticton Water Treatment Plant safe to drink and use, so every drop wasted comes with a cost. 

More than 40 million litres of water pass through the treatment facility daily in the summertime, though the facility has the capacity for 88 million litres per day to allow for for future population growth and times of dire need like forest fires. 

"So we ask the public to reduce their water usage, whether that's for agricultural customers or domestic customers, and that lessens the load of what we put through our plant here, and therefore conserves for the ecosystem," Firlotte said. 

The City of Penticton is still on regular summertime Stage 1 water restrictions, which simply regulate when citizens can water their lawns, but that could change if drought continues. 

"It's a hot, dry year, so use water wisely, and don't waste, and allow it to last the whole season," Firlotte said. 

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