Water quality measure invoked for West Kelowna

Shannon Lake bulk water station will provide free water to anyone affected by Lakeview water quality advisory.

West Kelowna council says anyone affected by the Lakeview water quality advisory will be able to get water for free from the Shannon Lake bulk water station.

In response to the ongoing water quality advisory issued for the Lakeview Water system earlier this summer in West Kelowna, city council is opening the tap of its bulk water station in Shannon Lake to all residents to provide bulk clean, safe drinking water for free.

After more than two months of the advisory—which says residents with very young children, seniors and those with compromised immune systems should boil tap water for at least a minute before it is ingested or used for water to wash food or brush teeth—council says anyone affected by the Lakeview water quality advisory will be able to get water for free from the bulk water station located at Shannon Lake Road and Asquith Road.

And that will be the case until the water quality advisory is lifted.

In a presentation to council Tuesday, consultant Health Larratt, of Larratt Aquatic, said while the turbidity level in water from the Rose Valley Reservoir is improving, there’s no way to tell when it will return to normal, short of the annual freeze this winter.

She said the conditions that contributed to the algae growth and turbidity rise in the reservoir were “unprecedented” with unexpected and unseasonal hot weather in the spring and wetter than normal weather over the summer.

Council made the move to open the previously code-secured bulk water station to everyone at no charge at the insistence of Coun. Rosalind Neis, who said the idea came from an affected resident.

Neis said she was aware of residents and businesses in West Kelowna who have had to spend thousands of dollars over the summer to provide their own safe drinking water.

“I think this is a start in the right direction,” said Neis, adding the public expect their municipalities to provide them with safe, clean drinking water.

She said proper communication is also needed with those affected to explain what is happening, why and what is being done to try and remedy the issue.

As city staff noted, the water quality advisory is not as severe as a boil water notice. Still, Neis suggested a notice be delivered to all affected residences.

She said all councillors have had many emails about the water quality issue that affects thousands of residents in the Lakeview Heights and Shannon Lake areas. “I want the public to see we are taking this very seriously,” she said. “I’d rather err on the side of safety.”

Up to now, people using the bulk water station had to enter a code to get water and were then charged for it. Council’s latest move will waive all charges and mean a code will not have to be entered to get water.

It was not made immediately clear when the bulk water station would be opened to everyone, but city chief administrative officer Jim Zafino said it would be done right way with council’s approval.