How clean is the lake?

Alanna Kelly

UPDATE: 5:20 p.m.

City of Kelowna staff said they conduct numerous tests on Okanagan Lake and post them online for the public to observe.

Water tests conducted by Castanet show the water is currently very clean.

Ed Hope, water quality and customer care supervisor with the City of Kelowna, said overall Okanagan Lake is full of highly potable water.

“We continue to use that as our primary drinking water source for our residents,” he said.

A number of tests are conducted on a daily basis, as well as a weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually.

“Intakes are fairly deep in the lake,” said Hope. “With the amount of flow that does come in, the water quality is impacted by some form of turbidity.”

Water is screened as much as possible to make sure there are no health concerns.


ORIGINAL: 5 a.m.

As beaches across the Okanagan Valley are quickly filling and residents sail out on the water, results from our water test on Okanagan Lake have come in.

Castanet independently tested the water through CARO Analytical Services on April 23.

Red coloured rocks that were deemed safe by the City of Kelowna turned up on numerous beachfronts. The mysterious rocks left many residents puzzled and prompted us to do our own testing to find out what was really in the water.

The essential drinking water test kit was performed which examines levels of total coliforms, E. Coli, alkalinity, Aluminum, antimony, Arsenic, Barium, Boron, Cadmium, Calcium, Chloride, Chromium, Copper, conductivity, Cyanide, Fluoride, hardness (total), Iron, Lead, Magnesium, Manganese, Mercury, Nitrate, Nitrite, pH, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium, Sulfate, total dissolved solids, turbidity, Uranium and Zinc in the water.

Jeff Curtis, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at UBC Okanagan, said the data collected from the samples show the water is potable.

“Anions are only problematic when they are in huge abundance and they are not,” he said. “Alkalinity hardness is not outside of guidelines, for some people maybe it is harder than they want it, but it is not an issue."

As for the metals in Okanagan Lake, Curtis said they are very low.

“Very, very, very low,” he said. “Way below the maximum allowable concentration for drinking water.”

Curtis described the lake as huge in comparison to the water that flows through it.

“In order for things to change, it would take a long time or a large amount of material to change it,” he said.

“Changes do occur, over long periods of time."

This is what Curtis said is one of the great assets in the region, “to have a water supply like that that retains itself in relatively good condition.”

When asked if there was something that could be troublesome that was not done in this test Curtis said no.

“The easy answer is it would be hard to think of a problem parameter in our lakes,” said Curtis.

While the water is potable, we don’t recommend taking large gulps.

“Would I drink Okanagan Lake water?… I wouldn’t,” he said. “I have access to Okanagan Lake water that has also gone through a treatment system.”

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