Drinking water quality
During the construction phase of the SEKID water integration project, new connections will be placed on a Water Quality Advisory (WQA) until further notice. The City is testing water quality and will provide an update as to when it is safe to lift the advisory.
There can be Water Quality Advisories and Boil Water Notices in place throughout the Central Okanagan at any given time. Check with your water service provider for the most up-to-date information.
There are a number of water service providers in Kelowna. Use the tool below to find your provider.
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.
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.
Types of Alerts
|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.|
|Used in situations in which the public health threat posed by the water supply system is elevated and the nature of the threat is one that can be effectively addressed through boiling of the water.|
|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.
|pH range||pH units||7.78||N/A||7.0-10.5|
|Total Dissolved Solids||mg/L||170||N/A||<500|
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, odour, and color. This is generally not associated with known health concerns.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 .