British Columbia

Kelowna pursuing $348M plan to improve drinking water

Kelowna has five separate water suppliers, but a plan to connect all five systems so everyone gets the same water and pays the same rate is now on the table.

Southeast Kelowna, where water regularly doesn't meet Canadian standards, a top priority

A plan to unify the five drinking water providers in Kelowna is now on the table. (Tim Graham)

The City of Kelowna wants to solve its water problems — but at an estimated cost of $348 million, the fix won't come cheap.

Depending on where they live, residents pay varying rates to get water of varying quality, because the city has five separate water suppliers.

But a plan to connect all five systems so that everyone gets the same water and pays the same rates is now on the table.

"We're happy that we have this plan and our premier has said that this will be the plan moving forward," Mayor Colin Basran told Radio West host Audrey McKinnon.

"Now what we need to do is work with the province and the federal government on a long-term implementation of this plan which will of course need to be funded, hopefully, with help from higher levels of government."

Explaining the plan's recommendations to council Monday, consultant Don Stafford said the primary water source would become Mission Creek, which would require less pumping due to its high elevation. Lake water would be used as a backup when turbidity is too high.

A top priority for the plan is to improve water quality in Southeast Kelowna, which Basran says regularly has quality problems in its drinking water.

"That happens to be phase one of this integration strategy," Basran said. "There are times of the year, or throughout the year, that the water doesn't meet Canadian drinking water guidelines."

Basran says phase one of the plan, which will cost approximately $60 million, calls for the federal and provincial governments to pay for 83 per cent of the costs, with the remainder coming from the City of Kelowna and the South East Kelowna Irrigation District.

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Basran says phase one's completion could take "a couple of years."

With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West

To hear the full interview with Colin Basran, click the audio labelled: Kelowna pursuing $350 m plan for improving drinking water