Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan

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The 2017 Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan is the a result of a third-party Value Planning Study of the 2012 plan and calls for a city-wide integrated water system to achieve:

  • The best lowest cost city-wide solution
  • Drinking water that meets Canadian Drinking Water Quality Standards
  • Flexibility from administrative and operational perspectives
  • Maintained agricultural interests

Preliminary numbers show $95 million in cost savings compared to the 2012 plan.​

Water Supply Plan   Executive summary 

Other benefits of plan
  • Water quality, rate, supply and service equity
  • Resilient and redundant system that meets domestic and agricultural needs
  • Efficiency in operations and administration
Quotes about plan

“While, technically, water quality issues can be solved independently by each provider, these independent technical solutions will be very costly, creating rate inequity for customers. The more cost effective solution is to create an integrated water system that meets the customers’ water service expectations, protects public health, improves the aesthetic qualities of the water, ensures equity in services and costs and creates a resilient and redundant supply system."  John Robinson, Team Lead, Strategic Value Solutions

“The conclusion of the Value Planning Study marks a significant milestone for an exercise that began in 2010 to determine how best to proceed with the delivery of both domestic and agricultural water in Kelowna.”  Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

Phase 1 project

The first project of the 2017 plan will see a new clean drinking water system built in southeast Kelowna and a resilient water source for agricultural irrigation in the South Mission. Read more on the Phase 1- Kelowna Integrated Water project page.

How the plan impacts drinking & agricultural water

Drinking water

The 2017 Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan, implemented over time, would see drinking water drawn from two main sources: Mission Creek (when water quality is good) and Okanagan Lake (during the remainder of the year). This significantly reduces the cost of pumping water from the lake for most of the year. Existing wells and other creeks would also be utilized as supplemental water sources, helping to defer advanced treatment. The use of two main water sources greatly reduces the costs of advanced treatment by limiting the number of water sources requiring treatment.

“Climate change is the biggest unknown when it comes to confidently planning water supply for Kelowna.  The best preparation for an uncertain future, is to integrate the systems to create resilient and robust networks for both domestic and agricultural water."  John Robinson, Team Lead, Strategic Value Solutions

Is there adequate flow in Mission Creek to implement the new plan?

The Value Planning Study reviewed current and future licensing requirements as related to the proposed plan and there is adequate flow for both domestic water and fish flow. The Value Planning Study recommends the development of a City-wide water model and a more detailed review of how the water systems will be split. System demands will be compared with available licensing to ensure that any one source will not be overdrawn. 

The beauty of the 2017 Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan is its built-in resiliency and redundancy; if there’s a shortfall in Mission Creek for any reason, more water could be drawn from Okanagan Lake or wells or vice versa. Black Mountain Irrigation District currently uses Mission Creek for most of the year to provide its customers with high quality drinking water.

We’re committed to restoring fish, wildlife stock and habitat in Mission Creek, and are an active partner in the Mission Creek Restoration Initiative (MCRI), a multi-phase, multi-stakeholder partnership formed officially in 2008 to restore natural functions to the lower sections of Mission Creek.  

The withdrawal of water from streams in British Columbia is governed by acts enforced by the provincial and federal governments to ensure the health of streams including flows required for environmental reasons.

Agricultural water

The plan calls for the separation of drinking and agricultural systems, allowing lower quality untreated water to be used for agriculture, greatly reducing costs over time. The primary agricultural sources include Hydraulic, Scotty and Kelowna Creeks, along with the ability to draw from existing wells, Mission Creek and Okanagan Lake if agricultural sources are compromised.

Plan background 

Current delivery of water in Kelowna

The four major providers are: the City Water Utility, Glenmore Ellison Improvement District (GEID), Black Mountain Irrigation District (BMID), and Rutland Waterworks District (RWW). The City Water Utility supplies 56 per cent of Kelowna’s citizens with drinking water; BMID supplies 17 per cent of citizens with water, RWW supplies 11 per cent of citizens, GEID supplies 12 per cent of citizens. 

An additional 25 small private water systems provide water to their ratepayers.

Our water history and future

Kelowna has changed significantly since the historical creation of irrigation districts in the early 1900s. The city is one of the fastest growing municipalities in B.C. (and Canada), evolving from a rural outpost to an urban community known as the hub for education, health care, air transportation and commerce in B.C.’s Interior.

Kelowna’s Official Community Plan anticipates Kelowna will grow to 161,700 people by 2030 from its current population of 122,000. Development pressures will continue to place high demands on irrigation districts to provide a higher quality and more reliable water source to citizens.

Value Planning process

Strategic Value Solutions, in consultation with a variety of provincial and local water stakeholders, reviewed the 2012 Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan and made recommendations to ensure the best lowest cost city-wide solution. The changes have resulted in recommendations for the 2017 Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan. The Value Planning Study was a provincial requirement to ensure the plan was the most cost-effective and efficient way to supply water moving forward. 

Strategic Value Solutions team of seven has extensive knowledge in water system planning including costing and rate development. Don Stafford, a senior member of the Value Planning team, has 30-plus years of value planning and engineering experience. He has experience specifically in water and large pipeline facilities projects.

The team brought an objective and unbiased perspective to how best to plan for an uncertain future. Other participants in the exercise included representatives from:  local engineering firms who have extensive experience with Kelowna’s water systems; Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations and Interior Health; the City of Kelowna; and South East Kelowna Irrigation District (SEKID).

The Value Planning Study workshop was conducted in Kelowna from Jan. 9-13. The $220,000 study was cost-shared between the City of Kelowna and SEKID.