Cloudy brown water soon a thing of the past in Glenmore Ellison

By John McDonald, infonews.ca, Oct 7, 2015 

CENTRAL OKANAGAN – It’s taken almost seven years and $20 million, but residents who have endured near constant water quality advisories in the Glenmore Ellison area are getting some relief.

Project coordinator Mike Rojem with the Glenmore Ellison Improvement District inside the new pump station.
Project coordinator Mike Rojem with the Glenmore Ellison Improvement District inside the new pump station.

Darwin Kutney, geneal manager of the Glenmore Ellison Improvement District, says its new Okanagan Lake intake and pump station plus a closed reservoir are set to begin service in March and will largely end the water quality complaints that come into the irrigation district each spring.

“We will soon have the best raw water quality in Kelowna,” Kutney says.

The irrigation district’s water quality problem is related to its unprotected upland surface water reservoir in Postill Lake, where vegetation and soil create tannins that can turn the water a yellow-brown colour.

When combined with sediment from Mill Creek during the spring run-off, Glenmore Ellison water would often come out of the taps cloudy and brown, looking like it came from an unflushed toilet rather than an upland lake.

Part of the solution was to move its water intakes off Mill Creek and the irrigation district has just finished spending $13 million constructing a state-of-the-art pumping station and deep-water intake on the shores of Okangan Lake in McKinley Landing.

It allows the irrigation district to pump water from 32 metres below the surface of the lake directly into the McKinley reservoir using a 42-inch water main and a series of powerful pumps that came on-line last January.

“Right away water quality was raised considerably,” Kutney says.

But the final piece of the puzzle is taking shape on the shores of the McKinley landing reservoir in the form of a 6,000-cubic metre closed concrete reservoir.

Due to come on-line in March, the $7-million reservoir will remove the final impediment to drinking water that fully meets standards set by the Interior Health Authority.

“Open reservoirs are subject to outside influences,” Kutney says, including contamination from people and animals.

Part of the new reservoir’s infrastructure includes a bypass of the open air reservoir, allowing water to be treated and introduced directly into the distribution system should it become contaminated.

The Glenmore Ellison Improvement District was established in 1921 to service the burgeoning orchard industry.

Since then, it has morphed into a primarily residential system serving 18,000 customers through 6,700 connections. It is one of five major water providers within Kelowna’s boundaries.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724

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