Abusing Okanagan Lake

Arriving 1963 in Kelowna, as a teenager, I was very interested in the lake. I swam, fished and scuba dived.

Down at the old ferry docks we could watch large schools of crappie fish (food fish for trout) come to the surface while being chased by several trout looking for food. At the docks, you could see 30' or more deep as the water was very clear and clean. At this time, Kelowna was a 12,000 population small town. It grew over the years to 120,000 or more.

The sewer plant was rebuilt and much of the area water for domestic use came from behind Knox Mountain as well as from the mountain lakes. Now the city has purchased some of the irrigation districts serving the orchards and has spent $85 million installing new Okanagan Lake water supplies to the orchards domestic needs. Orchards still use mountain untreated water for their plants. All the while, the sewer treatment plant spews sewer effluent into the lake.

This is treated with chlorine to kill bacteria in the effluent. Some say the effluent is good enough to drink? Are there any takers? Sewer plant effluent, if good enough to drink, could be used for irrigation, thus leaving the mountain water to replenish the Okanagan Lake. The crappies and the trout are not doing so well drinking sewer plant effluent. Vernon is now adding their sewer plant effluent to Okanagan Lake as Penticton does to the Okanagan River and Westbank drains into the lake as well.

Good news for SEKID customers(domestic), you are now drinking sewer plant effluent since your Cedar Creek pumping station is downstream from Kelowna and Vernon's sewer effluent outlets. Kelowna's main water intake is downstream of Vernon's effluent outlet so enjoy their output, Kelowna.

Point: this treatment of the Okanagan Lake is not sustainable. Valley people need to know what they drink and how long before their water starts to taste like sewer plant effluent. I know what I say may surprise you but think about your next glass of water. My experience includes 44 years of engineering with large power plants and I also operated a large industrial sewer plant. The Okanagan residents should take notice and take action.

Jorgen Hansen

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