For the record

Re: Abusing Okanagan Lake

The letter published March 3, “Abusing Okanagan Lake” needs to be clarified, as there are several inaccurate statements around both our wastewater and drinking water.

The City of Kelowna’s wastewater treatment facility on Raymer Avenue treats roughly 36 million litres a day of wastewater — mainly water from our toilets, showers, sinks and laundry machines.

Innovative technologies include UV disinfection of the effluent, which is used to inactivate bacteria and a state-of-the-art odour control system. The Bardenpho Wastewater Treatment Facility (BNR) replaced the original Wastewater Treatment Plant that was built in the early 1900s and was the first of its kind built in North America to accommodate the Bardenpho Process for biological nutrient removal. The chemical-free process is effective, cost efficient and environmentally sound.

Once large organic and inorganic solids are settled out and removed, the liquid goes to the biological reactor. In simple terms, incoming waste (a carbon source) becomes food for the bacterial organisms in the biological reactor. BNR is a process used for nitrogen and phosphorus removal from wastewater before it is discharged.

Once any remaining fine solids are removed, the wastewater is disinfected using ultraviolet light before it flows into Okanagan Lake through an outfall pipe that’s 1.2 km offshore and more than 60 metres deep. No wastewater is treated with chlorine.

Regarding drinking water provided through the City’s Water Utility, the water is sourced from Okanagan Lake and provided to roughly 73,000 customers from four main intakes at Poplar Point, Eldorado and Cedar Creek, and the Swick Road pump stations.

The South East Kelowna Irrigation District (SEKID) was dissolved by the province in June 2018, and all assets and liabilities were transferred to the City. Our domestic water system is being expanded into Southeast Kelowna through Phase 1 of the Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan to provide area residents with water that meets Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines.

The City’s Water Utility has adopted a source-to-tap water management approach that includes watershed protection, water quality monitoring, treatment, distribution system maintenance, cross-connection control, and water-use efficiency. Local health authorities have described our Water Utility’s source-to-tap program as one of the best in B.C. The program’s goal is to identify hazards and weaknesses that can affect the safety and quality of our drinking water supply.

We follow all requirements under our permit issued by the BC Ministry of Environment. We are also actively engaged with watershed protection efforts through several partners, including Okanagan Basin Water Board, Friends of Mission Creek, and Regional District of Central Okanagan.

In short, the City is committed to protecting the public, environmental, and economic health of our precious water resource.

Kevin Van Vliet, Utility Services Manager

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The opinions expressed here are strictly those of the author. Castanet does not in any way warrant the information presented.

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