Acceptance of treated effluent sought

By Richard Rolke – Vernon Morning Star April 1, 2012 

Vernon wants residents and government officials to embrace treated effluent as a resource.

Vernon wants residents and government officials to embrace treated effluent as a resource.

City staff will urge the Ministry of Environment to be more supportive of treated waste water being used for irrigation.

“It’s treated very well, almost to the extent of our drinking water,” said Rob Dickinson, engineering manager.

Dickinson says while some ministry officials support the program, others are extremely negative, especially if some is accidentally discharged.

“The ministry needs to work with us a lot more closely,” he said.

Dickinson believes there is also a need for residents to accept treated effluent for irrigation purposes, particularly when the domestic water supply is limited.

“There’s so much misinformation out there,” he said.

Case in point, he says, is the view that treated effluent shouldn’t be used on crops but many of the vegetables we acquire from Mexico and California are irrigated that way.

“In Canada, we say, ‘Oh, it’s been touched by dirty water.’”

The city is also in discussion with the Regional District of North Okanagan to see if treated effluent can be used for agricultural irrigation, leaving current water sources for domestic uses like drinking.

RDNO is presently considering separating agricultural customers from the Duteau Creek system so that water doesn’t have to be treated and capacity at the plant can be directed towards domestic customers.

The goal is to defer the Interior Health Authority’s demands for $20 million in filtration.

Dickinson believes such upgrades can be financially onerous if they aren’t phased in.

“You will bankrupt some municipalities if you say filtration must happen tomorrow,” he said.

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