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Penticton  

District staff recommending to deny an orchardists request to pump directly from a reservoir

Dam water flow uncertainty

Summerland council will receive an update Monday regarding a proposal from a local cherry orchardist. The offer is to provide annual funding to maintain local dams in exchange for being allowed to pump directly from Garnett Reservoir to water the farm’s trees during dry years.

District staff is recommending for the request made by Savanna Ridge Cherries Inc. (SRCI) be denied.

Keith Carlson, one of the SRCI's owners, presented his request to council on Jan. 25, 2021. His 75-acre facility has two ground wells on the property, a water license for the property that includes runoff water from Acland Mountain and a storage lagoon that holds 43,000 cubic metres.

The current local dam network includes Aeneas Dam, which lets water into Aeneas Creek to feed Garnet Lake. Aeneas Creek is difficult to access and in need of repairs.

Carlson has offered to help pay for the Aeneas repairs in exchange for being allowed to pump water from Garnet Lake for his nearby orchards.

The provincial government has already rejected a request by the cherry orchard to draw water from Acland Creek, saying the best option would see the orchard connect to the Meadow Valley Irrigation District.

The irrigation district, however, has concerns that there is not enough supply of water in Darke Lake to add another user. The cherry farm's request would make up between three and seven per cent of Darke Lake's annual volume.

District staff also noted that Aeneas Dam will be decommissioned next year and studies are needed to get a complete picture of how that project will impact the area's water supply.

The financial implications of supplying water to the orchard outside of municipal boundaries still need to be investigated further.

“Operational costs and impacts will vary depending on how any agreements are structured and depending on what infrastructure is required to be installed should this request be approved and moved forward,” the report reads.

District staff ultimately are recommending council deny the request due to the uncertainty of water inflow to the Garnett Reservoir during dry or drought years and the potential for increased future water demand in Garnett Valley.

Council will discuss the request Monday evening.



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