Kelowna staff in Merritt to help get systems going again

November 22, 2021

News Release

Early Saturday morning, a team of eight City of Kelowna staff headed out over the Connector to help get Merritt’s water systems running again.

The experienced water and wastewater operators from Kelowna will lend a helping hand and share their expertise in Merritt for five days to help get overwhelmed municipal services operating after a devastating flood knocked-out the city’s facilities and forced the evacuation of more than 7,000 residents.

“We received the request for support late last week,” said Utility Services Manager Kevin Van Vliet. “The Merritt team is small and mighty, but their systems are overwhelmed and they’re dealing with their own personal losses.”

“As water and wastewater operators, we understand the challenge ahead and we have the expertise and ability to move around our activities to free up a team to support them,” said Wastewater Manager Mike Gosselin. “It’s a full-team effort – whether you’re one of those on the ground in Merritt or taking on extra duties here in Kelowna while this team is away.”

Since Saturday, the team in Merritt has worked 12 hours a day to bring two critical systems back online.

Merritt’s wastewater system, including their primary treatment facility, was flooded, which brought rocks and silt into the system. It needs to be emptied, cleaned and re-seeded with active biologicals to make the system operate effectively.

The water system in Merritt requires similar efforts. It must be fully flushed and disinfected, checked for leaks and damage repaired before clean water can run again.

The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has also sent a small team to provide relief to the Merritt EOC. It includes experienced staff from City of Kelowna, West Kelowna and Regional District of the Central Okanagan.

“Here in Kelowna, we understand what it’s like to face large natural disasters for long, extended periods of time. It takes many people – talented and dedicated people – to step in and help out,” said Van Vliet. “As water and Wastewater operators, we have always supported each other with collaborative training, tours and learning opportunities, so we’re also pleased to be able to support other communities in challenging times too.”

From Kelowna Wastewater Operations 

  • Mike Humes                        
  • Amanda Shuffels 
  • Robbie Liboiron                  
  • Dennis Dexel                       

From Kelowna Water Operations 

  • Chris Roth  
  • Jesse Melrose  
  • Derek Enns  
  • TJ Hall