Peachland has drinking water for 20,000 residents

Enough water for growth?

Peachland can grow to about 20,000 people before it needs to be concerned about water shortages, council learned on Tuesday.

A revised water-supply report was presented to council. A draft last month declared Peachland’s supply was sufficient until 2070.

The new report says Peachland may need to act by 2050 to boost supply, but some population projections assumed awfully high growth rates.

Various scenarios were presented, but one chart council saw showed Peachland’s population reaching 90,000 people by 2100. Peachland now has just over 6,000 people.

“I did the calculation myself and we’re around 14,000 by 2050,” Mayor Patrick Van Minsel responded to statistics presented by consultant Glen Zachary from the company Urban Systems.

“According to that chart, it says to me, that we are probably have enough water (for) 22,000 people approximately,” added administrator Joe Creron.

Peachland gets most of its water from Peachland Creek, with Peachland Lake being the main reservoir. The municipality can get water from Okanagan Lake in an emergency, council heard.

After 2050, Peachland Lake may not be able to refill to full pool, the report says.

The report considered the effects of climate change as well as population growth. Temperatures are going to rise, the snowpack will be smaller. Spring runoff will happen earlier. The growing season will be longer. Precipitation amounts will be similar, but with less rain in the summer, it predicts.

Coun. David Collins noted one effect of climate change is people are turning on their irrigation systems sooner.

“Right now I’m seeing most of my neighbours turn their irrigation on already because if they don’t what they have in the yard is going to die,” he said.

But the report said the main threat to the reservoir is municipal growth, not climate change.

“In all four scenarios analyzed, the reservoir is projected to experience failure starting in the 2050s and 2060s. Annual reservoir shortfalls are expected by the 2060s,” it said.

The report urges Peachland to take steps to reduce demand and increase supply. Replacing aging infrastructure and faulty water meters will be required. Eventually, increasing capacity in the reservoir may be needed.

Coun. Alena Glasman wondered if this winter’s damage to the tree-fruit crop was taken into account as some growers may have fewer trees to water this year. She was told it was not part of the report.

Coun. Keith Thom noted water use declined around 2010 when meters were installed.

“In 2010, this community did not become so conscientious and cut down their water consumption, they became aware of the cost of water and that’s why it dropped down. We did it because it hit our wallets.”

He also noted Europeans are more economical about using water in the shower than North Americans.

Coun. Terry Condon asked for less technical jargon in the report and more “relatable” examples about how people can reduce water use.

Council discussed the report in the more informal committee of the whole setting, so no action was taken.

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