Drinking Water Quality

Water Quality

There are currently no water quality advisories for the City Water Utility.

A number of Water Quality Advisories and Boil Water Notices are in place throughout the Central Okanagan. Check with your water service provider for the most up-to-date information.

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We measure turbidity levels on an ongoing basis.

Turbidity is a water quality term that refers to fine suspended particles of clay, silt, organic and inorganic matter, plankton and other microscopic organisms that are picked up by water as it passes through a watershed. 

Turbidity values updated November 15, 2018.

 Poplar Point Intake

Turbidity Index

0.203 NTU

Rating: GOOD

Turbidity levels, the concentration of
suspended particles in water, are rated as follows:

GOOD - < 1 NTU

FAIR - 1 - 5 NTU

POOR - > 5 NTU

  Cedar Creek Intake

Turbidity Index

0.393 NTU

Rating:GOOD 

Turbidity levels, the concentration of
suspended particles in water, are rated as follows:

GOOD - < 1 NTU

FAIR - 1 - 5 NTU

POOR - > 5 NTU

 Eldorado Intake

(Off-line until Spring 2019)

Turbidity Index

0.195 NTU

Rating: GOOD

Turbidity levels, the concentration of
suspended particles in water, are rated as follows:

GOOD - < 1 NTU

FAIR - 1 - 5 NTU

POOR - > 5 NTU

Swick  Road Intake

Turbidity Index

    0.393 NTU

Rating: GOOD

Turbidity levels, the concentration of
suspended particles in water, are rated as follows:

GOOD - < 1 NTU

FAIR - 1 - 5 NTU

POOR - > 5 NTU

 

Good (<1 NTU)

Fair (1-5 NTU)
It is recommended that children, the elderly, people with compromised immune systems and anyone seeking additional protection drink boiled water or a safe alternative.

Poor (>5 NTU)
It is recommended that all users drink boiled water or a safe alternative. Tap water intended for drinking should be brought to a rolling boil for at least one minute.

City Utility customers can receive automatic email updates on water quality by signing-up for Water Notices - Kelowna Utility.

All other water provider customers can sign-up for automatic email updates on water quality through the Kelowna Joint Water Committee.

Types of Alerts

Water Quality Advisory:

Used in situations in which the public health threat posed by the water supply system is modest, and actions can be taken to reduce the risks through means other than requiring a Boil Water Notice or Do Not Use Water Notice.

Boil Water Notice:

Used in situations in which the public health threat posed by the water supply system is significant and the nature of the threat is one that can be effectively addressed through boiling of the water.

Do Not Use Notice:

Used in situations where a significant public health threat exists in relation to the water supply system, and the threat cannot be adequately addressed through a Water Quality Advisory or Boil Water Notice.
 

Water Quality Table

The Water Quality Table features the established Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines for water quality. The table provides information as to what the City of Kelowna Water Utility typically sees for results within the distribution system. 

ParameterUnitsConcentrationMACAO
Arsenicmg/L0.00060.01N/A
Chlorine-Freemg/L0.68N/AN/A
Chlorine-Totalmg/L0.77N/AN/A
eColiMPN/100mL<1.0<1.0N/A
Hardnessmg/L122N/A500
Ironmg/L0.02N/A<0.3
Leadmg/L<0.00020.01N/A
Mercurymg/L<0.000010.001N/A
pH rangepH units7.78N/A7.0-10.5
Sodiummg/L14.0N/A<200
THM's-Totalmg/L0.06-0.080.1N/A
Total Dissolved Solidsmg/L170N/A<500
Turbidityntu0.32N/A1.00
Uraniummg/L0.0020.02N/A

MAC: Maximum Acceptable Concentrations have been established by the Federal Government for certain substances that are known or suspected to cause adverse health effects.  Each MAC has been derived to safeguard health, assuming lifelong consumption of drinking water containing that substance at that concentration.

AO: Aesthetic Objective which addresses parameters which may affect resident acceptance of drinking water such as taste, odor, and color. This is generally not associated with known health concerns.

How much chlorine is in the water?

The water is chlorinated at the lake intake sites between 1.50 and 2.00 mg/L, depending on seasonal changes in water quality. Throughout the distribution system the chlorine concentration ranges between 0.10 mg/L and 0.90 mg/L. Concentrations greater than 0.10 mg/L must be maintained to ensure disinfection of the water as it is pumped through the watermains.

The taste and odour threshold for chlorine is 0.60 mg/L; sensitive individuals can smell or taste (usually smell) chlorine around 0.40 mg/L. Chlorine is very volatile and readily dissipates into the air; this is why people can smell it in the shower. Chlorine is easily removed by boiling the water, leaving it overnight in an open container (in the fridge) or by using a charcoal filter.

What is the level of Trihalomethanes from chlorination?

The concentration of Total THM’s in Kelowna’s drinking water ranges between 30 ppb and 60 ppb. The Health Guideline is 100 ppb and we’re far below this conservative level.

How much fluoride is in the water?

Our water utility stopped fluoridating in 1996; the natural occurring fluoride in Okanagan Lake is between 0.20 mg/L and 0.30 mg/L.

How hard is the water provided by the City of Kelowna Water Utility?

The water contains 110-130 mg/L or 5-7 gpg (grains per gallon) of total hardness. Both calcium and magnesium are measured for total hardness. Water is considered soft at 60 mg/L, hard at 200 mg/L and unacceptable at 500 mg/L.

What kind of filter should I use to remove Cryptosporidium and Giardia?

Anyone with a home filter system should ensure the filter they are using is rated “1 micron absolute”. The “absolute” rating is very important because it means that pore size is not any bigger than 1 micron. Some filters are rated using a nominal pore size; this is not good enough to provide a proper barrier for Cryptosporidium and Giardia because they range in size from 1 to 5 microns.

Are herbicides and pesticides found in Okanagan Lake?

We have been monitoring for herbicides and pesticides since the beginning of the Water Quality Program in 1991. No trace of herbicides and/or pesticides has ever been found at any of the testing locations by the private labs hired to conduct the analyses. Testing is done for over 100 specific types of herbicides and pesticides.

Samples are collected during July as Agriculture Canada suggests July is the month most likely to produce a positive test indicating the presence of herbicides and/or pesticides. Since none have ever been found the Public Health Department approved a monitoring change allowing scans to be done every second year rather than every year.

Are heavy metals present in Okanagan Lake?

The presence of heavy metals has never been detected. Dissolved and heavy metals are included on the annual Health Canada Potability scans and remain on a yearly analysis schedule. At one point in the program samples were collected each month from all pumpstations for heavy and dissolved metals scans.

 

How can I understand the measurements?

One part per million (ppm) or mg/L is similar to:

1 inch in 16 miles
1 minute in 2 years
1 cent in $10,000

One part per billion (ppb) is similar to:

1 inch in 16,000 miles
1 second in 32 years
1 cent in $10,000,000

Which water sources are most affected by turbidity?

Turbidity levels are much higher in water from surface water sources (e.g. streams, rivers, and lakes) than from groundwater sources. Some surface water sources exhibit high turbidity levels during periods of high precipitation or snow melt (e.g. spring runoff).How is the turbidity measured and reported?

 

 

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How is the turbidity measured and reported?

Turbidity, which is measured and reported in nephelometric turbidity units (NTU), is an optical measurement of water’s ability to scatter and absorb light rather than transmit it in straight lines. Turbidity levels can range from less than 1 NTU to more than 1,000 NTU. At 5 NTU water is visible cloudy; at 25 NTU it is murky. 

How often is my water tested, and for what?

Water intended for drinking is measured against physical, chemical, radiological and microbiological standards outlined in the Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines. To that end, your water is tested regularly for  bacteria (e.g. total coliform and e-coli) with <1.0 MPN/100 mL. As well as, turbidity  guidelines that recommend  water intended for drinking have a turbidity level < 1 NTU. 

We have online monitoring 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition, Water Quality staff collects samples weekly to confirm the online  data. 

How will elevated levels of turbidity be reported?

In keeping with the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality and B.C.’s Drinking Water Protection Act, water suppliers will notify customers of turbidity levels that exceed 1 NTU. A turbidity index on the supplier’s website will indicate if the water is ‘Good’ (<1 NTU), ‘Fair’ (1-5 NTU), or ‘Poor’ (>5 NTU), and provide recommendations for each. ‘Fair’ and ‘Poor’ ratings will also be publicized through the media.

 

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Why is turbidity an important water quality indicator?

Bacteria, viruses and parasites such as giardia and cryptosporidium can attach themselves to the suspended particles in turbid water. These particles then interfere with disinfection by shielding contaminants from the disinfectant (e.g. chlorine). Chlorine is not effective in deactivating cryptosporidium.

For more information regarding health issues related to turbidity contact the Interior Health Authority at 250-862-4200 or visit  their website .