In the wee hours of Boxing Day morning, the Mission Hill water treatment plant experienced a major equipment malfunction, effectively shutting down the plant.
How many Vernon and Coldstream residents had their holidays with their families disrupted by this event? Not one.
This is because we are lucky enough to have multiple sources for our water. Operators were able to switch to the Duteau Creek supply without missing a beat.
The problem at Mission Hill was that an equipment failure prevented the pumps from bringing water up from Kal Lake to the plant. The Duteau system transports water by gravity. Because we have the ability to switch supplies, we don’t have to pay huge bills for emergency services to fix the power to the Mission Hill plant.
Imagine the difficulty and cost of getting a plumber at 1 a.m. on Boxing Day? Getting the plant up and running can happen in a thoughtful, cost-saving manner. Another benefit to the Duteau system is that the water is quite soft which has many benefits in your home. The Duteau Creek water system is also not susceptible to the threat from invasive mussels.
A local group that is getting a lot of ink in the paper would like to mothball the five-year-old Duteau plant that we just spent $20 million on in order to have a single source from Okanagan Lake. This is the lowest possible source so it would require significant mechanical systems and uninterrupted power to push all that water up to the residents. As well as being very costly, sole sourcing from Okanagan Lake would be very susceptible to a mussel problem if that were to occur. We do not have water rights on Okanagan Lake and obtaining them now would put us at the bottom of the list of water priorities. All other water rights would have to be honoured before ours.
I hope that when the decisions are made to move forward with an agreed upon master water plan, that it retains multiple sources that minimize our risk of disruption by power/mechanical outages as well as natural threats.