Letter: Control of our water supply

All water service changes should make Okanagan Lake even better.

Open letter to Kelowna Mayor Colin Day:

With regards to the Kelowna area five water systems and Interior Health Authority’s control of the operations of good water supplies for domestic use. [Integrated Water Eases Costs, Sept. 23 Kelowna Capital News.] People of Kelowna should be more informed re where their water comes from, how it is handled, whether its is filtered, chlorinated, or oxygenated by O3, and ask what they can say about their future supply.

People in Glenmore who use water from the Glenmore reservoir should realize that it contains duck poop and is exposed to all the elements i.e. it is not a protected pond with regards to potential contaminations. Bear Lake is used for the west side of the lake as well as Rose Valley Dam and McCullough Lakes serve East Kelowna. Oyama Lake does Oyama. Kelowna uses lake pumps both at Knox Mountain and in the Mission. Westbank pumps from the lake for some areas.

How can we improve on this five system operation? One suggestion is that all five units should only use water pulled from Okanagan Lake—one system for all. Why is this recommended? This would be to have quality control of supply at source. How do we improve quality at source? Do not dump any treated sewage into Okanagan Lake—none. What about the water systems already in service? Their pipes are already in the ground and may be hooked to the main city system. What about the mountains lakes used by these systems? These lake will be used for storage of new water for Okanagan Lake, when demand for more water as the city pulls from the lake. This is the natural way for water to enter and clean the Okanagan Lake.

Well, then what do we do with the treated sewage? Vernon has already made use of their treated waste using it for irrigation. If the farms do not want the treated effluent, then it could be used for irrigation in the dry forests around the valley. Farmers should have the choice of city water for domestic use and non city water i.e. treated sewage for irrigation. If the treated sewage or effluent is “good enough or treated to our satisfaction” then it should be “good enough” to irrigate with. If we seek change and upgrading of our systems and quality water in Okanagan Lake, then heed this advice. Our lake is not becoming any cleaner. I was a teenager in 1963 and we swam often in the lake and my friends and I remember very clean clear water with many minnows and real aquatic life.

If you think we can continue to dump treated sewage(contains all types of chemicals and medicines that the sewage plant cannot remove) get a grip on yourself. Kelowna dumps the main sewage effluent at the end of KLO directly into the lake. Mission area, where all the money is, have their pumping station downstream of this effluent dumping site so they drink Kelowna sewage effluent especially when they make a cup of coffee or ice for their fancy drinks. Do not believe filtering cures any faults with the water. No filter can take out the dissolved chemicals or drugs.

So, my friend, Colin, do not let people spend money on a quick cheap fix. There is only one right way to handle this: no sewage into the lake and one system for all for quality control. Our lake takes about 60 years to do “one flush” i.e. totally renew of water supply. Our lake is more delicate than we realize. There is no real flush of the lake with an average of 32 cm of rainfall per year. Once the lake water quality drops to such a dirty condition, we have no means of cleaning it up again, we will be behind the eight ball.

The sewage plant does a good job of removing most of the nutrients but it cannot remove any chemicals or drugs that have passed thru your body. I hope Colin has very good people to consult with. It will be difficult to dismantle these five small kingdoms and make one new water system. The five units could still be in control of the irrigation supply. Reservoirs may have to be constructed to handle the effluent before it is used for irrigation. Golf courses should be using effluent only. All is possible if we choose a clean lake and good water supply. Please do not make any changes that are not positive for our lake. Please note that you have been informed.


Jorgen Hansen, Kelowna