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Water pipes need an upgrade to handle fires in Okanagan Centre

The District of Lake Country met with Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

The District of Lake Country met with the minister of infrastructure this week to discuss upgrades for Okanagan Centre’s water supply and the area’s water pipes so the district will be better prepared for fires.

“We had a good chat and talked about our building and water systems. Not everything fits the program that they’re doing, they’re doing water and wastewater right now,” Mayor James Baker said, after the meeting July 10 with Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

Greg Buchholz, director of infrastructure with the district, said the district is creating a grant application for the $9.7 million project, which will upgrade old pipes in Okanagan Centre and improve the water treatment process at the Okanagan Lake pump house.

“In terms of domestic supply, (the pipes are) fine. Where we really are underserved there is with respect to fire protection and sufficient fire flow,” Buchholz said, adding the district has experienced failures with the old pipes.

“The soils are shifting and we have old asbestos pipes that are very susceptible to movement.”

He said the district has been working on getting pipe upgrades for the past few years, before the Okanagan Centre wildfire that destroyed multiple homes in 2017.

“We’ve got a larger pipe diameters up in that area so we didn’t have a problem there with what the system was designed to do, but had the wind shifted north, and come into the populated areas of Okanagan Centre core area, then we would’ve had issues with that water system not being up to snuff,” he said.

Buchholz said the pump house and pipe upgrades are considered top priories in the district. If approved, the federal government will pay for 50 per cent, the province will pay 33 per cent and the district will pay the rest, he said.

The pumphouse serves Okanagan Centre and Winfield.

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