South-east Kelowna residents gather round information boards set up by the city at an open house in 2017 explaining plans to improve the water system in the area. —Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Kelowna gets a more provincial money for water

City received $12 million from government for Phase 2 of its integrated water plan

Kelowna is getting more money to help pay for its integrated water plan.

The province has provided $12 million to the city to “significantly” advance Phase 2 of the plan to create a what is described as a resilient, robust and cost-effective water distribution system for both agriculture and drinking water.

Phase 2 will initially see construction of the 4.4-kilometre KLO transmission main and other related infrastructure to provide multiple water sources from a number of intakes over time. That will significantly improve water quality and supply risks for all water users in the face of climate change and fluctuating water quality.

“We would like to thank the provincial government for its ongoing support in this important city-wide initiative” said Mayor Colin Basran. “The government has not only shown a strong commitment to advancing this project through its significant ongoing financial contributions, but also through the continuing contributions of provincial staff in both planning and facilitation.”

Phase 2 also calls for water system hydraulic modelling and advanced planning to define next steps. The planning will investigate how future integration works can also help mitigate flooding, which caused millions of dollars in damages to Kelowna in 2017 and 2018, and ensure adequate creek flows for environmental needs.

The province will continue to work with the city to conduct extensive consultations with area First Nations and key stakeholders, including the three improvement districts who have not joined the plan, to help ensure Kelowna’s various water needs are met today and into future.

So are only the South East Kelowna Irrigation District has joined the city’s system under the plan. Rutland Waterworks, the Glenmore-Ellison Improvement District and the Black Mountain Irrigation District have so far, balked at joining the integrated city-wide water system.

Phase 1 of the water plan is well underway and will see the delivery of an $86-million project for a new clean drinking water system in Southeast Kelowna and a reliable, resilient source of water for agriculture in the South Mission. The city received $43.9 million from the province in 2017 for the new systems in south-east Kelowna.

Over time, the city says the new plan will allow it to holistically plan for agricultural and domestic supply, future demands and quality control. That ability to plan holistically is increasingly important as the population population increases, says city hall and as regulations become more stringent and Kelowna experiences more frequent variances in water quality and quantity due to a changing climate.

The city-wide plan would also deliver on a number of recommendations by the B.C. Auditor General, who tabled a report in March 2018 regarding the City of Kelowna water utility.

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