2017 Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan

2017 Kelowna Integrated Water Supply 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 2017 Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan, a result of a 2017 third-party Value Planning Study of the 2012 plan, 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
  • Maintain agricultural interests

The city-wide integration plan has a number of other benefits, including:

  • Water quality, rate, supply and service equity
  • Resilient and redundant system that meets domestic and agricultural needs
  • Efficiency in operations and administration

Preliminary numbers show a $95 million cost savings compared to the 2012 plan the Value Planning team was asked to review.

“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,” said Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

The New Plan (Executive Summary)

Drinking Water

“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

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 from Okanagan Lake during the remainder of the year. This significantly reduces the cost of pumping water from the lake for the majority 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 when required by limiting the number of water sources requiring treatment. 

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.

Hydraulic and Mill Creeks are at higher risk of supply shortage or failure compared to Mission Creek or Okanagan Lake.

Next steps
Read more about the 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+ years of value planning and engineering experience. He has particular experience in water and large pipeline facilities projects. The team brought an objective and unbiased perspective to how best to plan for an uncertain future.   Representatives from local engineering firms who have extensive experience with Kelowna’s water systems, provincial representatives from Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations and Interior Health and representatives from the City of Kelowna and South East Kelowna Irrigation District (SEKID) participated in the exercise.

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

Background
Read more about the current delivery of water in Kelowna

Five water purveyors service the majority of properties within the City of Kelowna.   Four of the water purveyors are Improvement Districts that are fully independent under Provincial legislation with their own Boards and staff, their own water sources and distribution systems and user fees.

The five major purveyors are: the City of Kelowna Water Utility, Glenmore Ellison Improvement District (GEID), Black Mountain Irrigation District (BMID), Rutland Waterworks District (RWW) and South East Kelowna Irrigation District (SEKID). The City of Kelowna Water Utility supplies 51% of Kelowna’s citizens with drinking water; BMID supplies 19% of citizens with water, RWW supplies 12% of citizens, GEID supplies 10% of citizens and SEKID 6% of citizens.  

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

Read more about the 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 BC (and Canada), evolving from a rural outpost to an urban community known as the hub for education, health care, air transportation and commerce in BC’s Interior.

The irrigation districts (BMID and GEID) have similarly evolved from servicing a primarily agricultural community to an urban population.  SEKID remains predominately rural with pockets of urbanization.  The three irrigation districts provide drinking water and fire flows to almost 35% of Kelowna citizens living within their servicing boundaries.  Rutland Waterworks District is primarily urban. 

 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.

Frequently asked questions
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 City wide water model and a more detail 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 over drawn. 

The beauty of the 2017 Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan is its built in resiliency and redundancy -  if there is 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 the majority of the year to provide its customers with high quality drinking water.

The City is committed to restoring fish and wildlife stock and habitat in Mission Creek and is 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.