Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan
Kelowna has changed significantly since the historical creation of irrigation districts in the early 1900s.Perhaps the largest change happened in 1973 when the City of Kelowna’s boundaries were extended to include Okanagan Mission, South Pandosy, South and East Kelowna, Rutland, Black Mountain, a portion of Ellison, Jim Bailey Road area and Glenmore Valley. The large increase in municipal boundaries also brought the irrigation districts within the City’s boundaries. Today there are four major water providers within City boundaries: The City Water Utility, Glenmore Ellison Improvement District (GEID), Black Mountain Irrigation District (BMID) and Rutland Water Works (RWW). There are also an additional 25 small water system (<300 connections) providers within the City’s boundaries.
Looking towards the future the City’s Official Community Plan anticipates the City’s population will grow to over 160,000 people by 2030, that’s an increase of over 30%. Development pressures will only continue to increase, which will place a higher demand on water providers to provide high quality and reliable water to our residents.
The 2017 Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan (the Plan) is the result of a third-party 2012 Value Planning Study calling 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
- Water quality, rate, supply and service equality
- Resilient and redundant system that meets domestic and agricultural needs
- Efficiency in operations and administration
Preliminary numbers show $95 million in cost savings compared to the 2012 plan.
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 Mill Creek, along with the ability to draw from existing wells, Mission Creek and Okanagan Lake if agricultural sources are compromised.
Phase 1 of the 2017 Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan has been the focus of City staff for over four years now. There is a significant amount of work left to do to ensure the project is successful and the integration goes smoothly.
We are working on an area-wide water plan with multiple stakeholders. The Plan is looking holistically at water throughout the entire Kelowna Water Basin. We will also do further modelling and detailed planning on the 2017 Plan to prepare for another senior government grant application.
Phase 1 - Kelowna integrated water
Kelowna Integrated Water Phase 1 has separated agricultural and domestic water systems in Southeast Kelowna and delivers a sustainable water supply to agriculture in the South Mission. The project brought clean drinking water to about 2,000 households and met Interior Health’s 2025 clean drinking water mandate almost 10 years earlier than planned in Southeast Kelowna. This is the first phase of the City’s vision to see a city-wide integrated water system through the 2017 Kelowna Integrated Water Supply plan.
To see where the potable water system was added and where the non-potable system converted to potable water only, please see the Southeast Kelowna water supply map below. The map also shows which properties have Local Area Service (LAS) status.
outheast Kelowna Irrigation District's (SEKID) portion of the project shortfall is $15.3 million. On May 14, 2018 City Council approved a budget amendment to provide City financing to SEKID ratepayers. Read details about the projects costs, funding model and typical domestic cost comparison in the newsletter to SEKID ratepayers or browse the display panels from the open house held May 17, 2018.
SEKID will start repaying this financing through a project fee of $32 per month to all domestic ratepayers, starting July 2018. In 2021, when Southeast Kelowna ratepayers will move to lower City Domestic water fees and rates, the re-payment will increase to about $40 per month until the shortfall cost is recovered.
To reduce the impact on SEKID ratepayers, the City altered project scope and deferred some long-range components to reduce the financial impact to SEKID ratepayers.
This project was made possible due to an unprecedented senior government grant of $43.9 million in March 2017. The balance of project costs will be paid for by both the City of Kelowna and the South East Kelowna Irrigation District. Portions and costs for the project are allocated based on percentage of benefit received.
In early 2018, construction cost increases and increased demand requirements saw the project budget rise from $63.5 million to $86 million. Our $6 million portion of the project shortfall will be funded through utility reserves.
The Phase 1 project provides new benefits for irrigation water users. Once the new domestic system is in place, the existing distribution system will become a dedicated supply of minimally treated water for irrigation and some fire protection.
This model of separated systems supports agriculture interests by reclaiming the capacity used by previous domestic customers, and spreading cost of ongoing maintenance and future infrastructure of this aging system over the entire City utility. For resiliency, the domestic water supply could also be used in an emergency or water shortage.
The City of Kelowna recognizes the need and importance of a vibrant agricultural industry. During the SEKID transition and beyond, numerous actions are being considered to support agriculture and ensure a strong transition of the irrigation system.
On May 14, 2018 Council approved:
- Maintaining agricultural rates and allocations for water set by SEKID until 2021
- Developing a transition advisory committee on agricultural water matters in South East Kelowna
- Committing to an inclusive engagement process with the agricultural industry regarding delivery and security of irrigation water
The City and SEKID have been working over the past year on a transition plan that welcomes all SEKID employees to continue their employment with the City of Kelowna. This will ensure continuity of service and valuable knowledge transfer.
A new agricultural rate structure is currently being determined based on feedback from the agricultural community this past winter . A proposed rate structure and rates are expected to be presented to Council in 2020, with new rates to take effect in 2021. In the meantime, existing SEKID rates and allocations for both domestic and agricultural rates will remain in place until new rates are adopted for 2021.
Phase 1 FAQ
Integration with the City utility is a requirement by the Province to access the $43.9M in grant funding.
As of summer 2021, the only items left to be completed in Phase 1 are system improvements and supply managament items.
- Provide non-potable water supply to properties on Field Road and Crawford Road
- Provide potable water supply to 5000 block of McCulloch Rd
- PRV upgrade to Bewlay
- Additional small irrigation services
- Minor improvements to O'Reilly well