Water project

Work on a new water distribution system for Southeast Kelowna is shown in this file photo.

After facing blow-back from East Kelowna and Crawford residents over surprise Stage 3 water restrictions, the city says it’s having “a positive impact” in the area. The situation is on the agenda for next week’s Kelowna city council meeting.

Residents in the area were shocked July 17 when the city imposed sudden and unprecedented Stage 3 water restrictions. The order limits outdoor watering to only once per week. The city blamed a stretch of hot, dry summer weather and residents using an “excessive” amount of potable water for irrigation. The city since said it had found 25% of residents had significant leaks between the city line and their homes.

In response, some residents accused the city of bungling its recent takeover of the South East Kelowna Irrigation District, and a nearly $100 million upgrade to the water system. On Friday, the city sent a follow-up news release.

“We’re pleased to see that the water restrictions put in place late last week are working to ensure reservoirs in the system are able to keep up with demand and allow adequate supply for domestic uses and fire protection. Thank you to the residents of Southeast Kelowna and Crawford, for your help,” said Kevin Van Vliet, Utility Services Manager.

“With continued responsible use of water, we hope to be able to move to twice per week irrigating soon.”

At the Monday meeting, councillors will consider a bylaw amendment to extend a deadline to request a $500 credit for using new irrigation services to Oct. 1. The incentive is to encourage residents to hookups to a secondary non-potable water source for irrigation.

The city release said the strain on the system is “transitional in nature and related to the capacity of the water system extension to southeast Kelowna – it’s not due to the volume of water available from Okanagan Lake.”

Temperatures have risen recently, and it’s expected to get even hotter.

After an unexpectedly high demand on the water supply, city water utility officials were concerned the system wouldn’t be able to ensure water for drinking, sanitation and firefighting.

“We know that high temperatures increase demand. With the extensive private property leakage and the amount of land currently being irrigated with domestic water, short-term water restrictions are necessary to maintain community safety,” said Van Vliet. 

“Over the next few weeks, city staff will continue to get the new facilities up and running to ensure that they can be operated to their maximum capacity.”

QUICK FACTS

Affected residents have an assigned weekly watering day. Additional watering restrictions and designated watering times include:

• Manual sprinklers may operate between 6-10 a.m. and 7 p.m.-midnight on designated watering days.

• Automatic sprinklers may operate from midnight to 6 a.m. on the designated day.

• Fruit trees and vegetable gardens may be watered Tuesdays and Fridays between 610 a.m. and 7 p.m. to midnight, as required to maintain plant health. 

• Hand watering with a spring-loaded hose to maintain plant health can occur on any day. Please hand water in the morning or evening to conserve water. 

• Residents in these areas are also not permitted to pressure wash houses, driveways or outdoor furniture, fill pools or hot tubs and wash cars using potable water supply at this time.