New city-wide water plan unveiled
Council heard a presentation Monday from Don Stafford, Strategic Value Solutions, on the 2017 Value Planning Study which outlines a new path forward for the delivery of domestic and agricultural water in Kelowna.
“The Value Planning Study and resulting 2017 Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan recommendations provide the City with a roadmap, supported by the Province, that will deliver high quality drinking water to all citizens, at equitable rates over time and will maintain agricultural interests,” said Mayor Colin Basran. “Most importantly, the plan will create a resilient and robust system serving both citizens and industry well into the future. The City recognizes there is more work to be done, but we’re pleased to have the overall direction set to guide future discussions.”
“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 Value Planning Study, found on the City of Kelowna’s website at kelowna.ca, calls for a city-wide integrated water system to achieve:
- The best lowest cost city-wide solution
- Meet Canadian Drinking Water Quality Standards to achieve public health outcomes
- 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
“I commend all participating parties for the significant progress made to date – the plan will be a key consideration when senior levels of government are trying to determine the allocation of grant funding,” said MP Stephen Fuhr.
“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,” said Stafford, Water System Planner. “The more cost effective solution is to create an integrated water system that meets the customers’ water service expectations, protects public health, improves the esthetic qualities of the water, ensures equity in services and costs and creates a resilient and redundant supply system. The preliminary numbers show a $95-million cost savings compared to the plan the team reviewed.”
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 used 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.
“Climate change is the biggest unknown when it comes to confidently planning water supply for Kelowna,” said Stafford. “The best preparation for an uncertain future is to integrate the systems to create resilient and robust networks for both domestic and 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.
The City re-submitted its Clean Water and Wastewater fund grant application to reflect the recommendations in the Value Planning Study. The City has requested $43.9 million to provide clean drinking water to citizens living in South East Kelowna and to provide a reliable supply of agricultural water to the ratepayers of the South Okanagan Mission Irrigation District (SOMID).
“Interior Health is happy to see the completion of an area-based plan,” said Dr. Trevor Corneil, Chief Medical Health Officer. “We are supportive of any work that will ensure clean, safe and reliable drinking water for Interior Health residents. We know that water system improvements come at a cost, and funding would help ensure South East Kelowna residents have access to clean drinking water that meets the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.”