Osoyoos Water Smart:

Elevating Your
Water Experience!

Osoyoos is endowed with many natural gifts and a beautiful landscape, and it is home to the warmest lake in Canada. As our beloved Town continues to grow, so does our commitment to becoming Water Smart.

We have embarked on a journey to elevate our water standards and are thrilled to share our remarkable progress. We invite you to be a part of this transformative journey!

Our Water Smart Journey at a Glance

Infrastructure Maintenance Excellence

We are starting an annual plan for reservoir cleaning and well screen rehabilitation.

Investing in Sustainable Water Utilities

We are dedicating more investment to improving operational practice, enhancing human resources and building capital reserves.

Water Utility Upgrade

We are in the planning stage for a new Water Treatment Facility to improve water quality and volume.

Road Map

Watch the video to learn more.

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Our Achievements So Far

Infrastructure Maintenance Excellence

We are starting an annual plan for reservoir cleaning and well screen rehabilitation, deploying both divers and robotic cleaners (ROVs), to clean the reservoir to proactively address mineral buildup. This initiative ensures smoother operations, eliminating major disruptions and infrastructure damage. We have also gained a more comprehensive understanding of our water chemistry by testing various parameters.

Ongoing Maintenance Excellence

We’re committed to regular infrastructure maintenance, incorporating industry best practices. Thanks to a stricter utility maintenance standard, future annual maintenance events are anticipated to cause minimal disruption.

Our Next Steps

Investing in Sustainable Water Utilities

From September 2022 up until September 2024, the Town is prioritizing investment in resources to improve operational practices for the long term.These investments are being channeled towards:

Operational Excellence: Implemented new policies and procedures to elevate water quality and operational excellence standards.

Human Resources Enhancement: Added team members to meet the demands arising from expanded infrastructure and more intensive operational practices.

Capital Reserves Build-Up: Starting to allocate additional capital to facilitate investments in required infrastructure replacement and expansion. This increases our success rate for grant applications. If the Town demonstrates that we are investing in the infrastructure, grants funders will do the same.

Our Plans Going Forward

Water Utility Upgrade - New Water Treatment Facility.
From 2024 onward, we will focus on infrastructure upgrades. We are currently in the planning stages of building a new water treatment facility to align with Health Canada’s Drinking Water Guidelines and meet the community's evolving water needs.

Addressing the Manganese Challenge

Understanding the Issue:

One of the many challenges in treating well water is Manganese. Health Canada’s updated standards necessitate a new treatment plant to align with acceptable Manganese levels.

What we are doing about it:

A water treatment pilot study has been completed by RESEAU, a third-party water testing firm supported by the University of British Columbia, at Wells 4 and 5 in Cottonwood Park. The study has shown that our groundwater will be difficult to treat and more complicated than originally known.

The experts at Reseau said:

"The water you get from your tap today is safe. Addressing minerals in our water is one of our top priorities in the overall Osoyoos Water Smart Plan."

We are maintaining rigorous testing:

We continue to monitor production wells and water distribution for quality concerns, including weekly testing for bacteriological indicators and daily tests for turbidity and chlorine. One of the many challenges in treating well water is Manganese. Health Canada’s updated standards necessitate a new treatment plant to align with acceptable Manganese levels.

Sourcing Our Town’s Water

There is an increased water demand in our Town, and we are down to 2 options to source our water to meet the demands and build the treatment plant.

Option 1

We continue using well water and drill two new wells. This means we will utilize a Groundwater Treatment Plant.

Option 2

We will draw water from Osoyoos Lake. This means we are using a surface Water Treatment Plant.

The Most Viable Option

These options come with their own set of considerations. With the help of Carollo, a specialized water consultancy firm, a Source Water and Treatment Feasibility Study was conducted to help us understand the pros and cons of the various options. The objective of the study was to determine the most viable action plan for sourcing the community’s water.

Surface water proved to be a more viable option to provide the community with potable water. 

Find the full report on the Source Water and Treatment Feasibility Study here: Feasibility Study Report

The budget for the design and construction of a new surface water treatment facility will cost $51,735,000 and an ongoing annual operating budget of approximately $1,148,000. This is less than the total cost of a groundwater treatment facility which is $61.5 million and about $1.1 million annually (April 2024 figures).

Considerations Well Water (Groundwater) Osoyoos Lake   (Surface Water)
Water Quality Low High Groundwater requires specialized treatment processes with iron, manganese, ammonia, and TOC, unlike surface water, which requires a basic and proven treatment method.
Infrastructure Cost High High A groundwater treatment plant addressing our particular water chemistry may require more advanced treatment technologies, which can increase initial capital and maintenance costs compared to surface water. We will have a better understanding of both the capital and operating expenses associated with each type of treatment plant in the near future.
Operational Cost High Low Operating costs may be higher due to the need for specific treatment methods for contaminants like iron, manganese, ammonia, and TOC. Unlike Surface water, in which conventional treatment processes are often sufficient.

Why A Surface Water Treatment Plant?

In the comparison of the two options – ground versus surface water – Carollo broke down the considerations into five categories: source water availability, raw water conveyance infrastructure, treatability, operations and maintenance, and financial.

What’s next?

We will review and finalize the procurement approaches, confirm the facility location with the Golf Course Lands as the preferred site, and initiate discussions with the Province and other key stakeholders. Concurrently, we will begin the process for reviews and approvals from Interior Health.

The permitting and preliminary design phase is expected to take 12 to 18 months. We plan to commence construction in a phased approach starting in Fall 2025, with the project anticipated to be completed within two to three years from the onset of construction.

We Want To Hear From You

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Still have questions?

Check below for commonly asked questions. If you don’t find your answer there, submit a new one and we’ll add it!

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Is the water safe to drink?

The Town of Osoyoos water system continues to meet all the requirements of the Drinking Water Protection Act and Regulations as well as the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. We do have three (3) production wells that exceed the Maximum Acceptable Concentration (MAC) for Manganese, but once the water is blended with our other production wells, the distributed water is below the MAC. However, our blended water does exceed the Aesthetic Objective (AO) for Manganese resulting in visual impacts.

Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality

What is the manganese value mg/L presently in Osoyoos water system?
Link our 2023 Water Annual Report - https://www.osoyoos.ca/media/1261

Do I have to pay for water meters?

Your new water meter will not need to be purchased and installation fees are not required.

Where is the next well site going to be?

The Town is in the process of determining potential well sites on both the east and west side of the Lake. We have engaged a Hydrogeologist to start the review process.

What is water treatment and how will it remove the manganese?

Water treatment is the process to remove organic and/or inorganic materials from water. Manganese is removed by filtration.

People are confused with what the lagoons are and think it is a Water Treatment Plant. Provide explanation.

The facility located at the Osoyoos golf course is the community’s sanitary sewer treatment plant. Wastewater collected from homes is transported via pump stations to the wastewater treatment plant where it is processed to remove solids and treated for harmful pathogens. It is then discharged as irrigation water for the Golf Course. This is not a water treatment plant for drinking water.

Why does my water turn brown?

This is the result of chlorine reacting with minerals in the water distribution system.

When are we getting meters and what will the rate for water usage be?

The installation of water meters is budgeted for implementation in 2023 and will take a couple of years to fully install. Rates have not been determined at this time.

What are the health risks to manganese?

How do water meters help with conservation?

Water becomes a user pay commodity and users pay for the amount used instead of a flat fee for unlimited water use.

Is drought something that we should be concerned with?

Yes it is. Drought conditions can affect communities and individuals in many different ways. Drought can lead to reduced water availability for household and business use. Lower stream flows may cause warmer river temperatures, affecting fish and other aquatic life. Low stream flows can also have an impact on groundwater levels.

In British Columbia, drought may be caused by combinations of insufficient snow accumulation, hot and dry weather, or a delay in rainfall.

How can we go from flooding to drought in the same year?

A drought is a period of time when an area or region experiences below-normal precipitation. The lack of adequate precipitation, either rain or snow, can cause reduced soil moisture or groundwater, diminished stream flow, crop damage, and a general water shortage.

Flooding is an overflowing of water onto land that is normally dry. Floods can happen during heavy rains, when ocean waves come onshore, when snow melts quickly, or when dams or levees break

Who do I contact about my brown water?

The Operational Service Department at either 250.495.6213 or pubworks@osoyoos.ca

Where would I get updates about water quality?

Town of Osoyoos website and Town of Osoyoos E-news.

How would I know if my property is on a boil water advisory?

Town will hand deliver notices to affected properties.

Town of Osoyoos website and Town of Osoyoos E-news.

Why is it taking so long for my water to clear up?

We encourage all water users to contact the Operational Services Department when they notice that they have brown or discoloured water.

The Operational Service Department at either 250.495.6213 or pubworks@osoyoos.ca

Is the Town going to pay for my replacement water filters?

No, the Town of Osoyoos has statutory immunity for nuisance claims arising from water, sewer, drainage, and roads as stated in Section 744 of the Local Government Act.

What is Manganese?

Manganese is an essential nutrient found naturally in the environment. It can be present in: air, food, water, soil and rocks.

What is the benefit of signing up early to have my meter installed. Will I be charged a user fee right away as opposed to the current flat rate?

Pre-registering for your water meter shows your support for water conservation efforts in our community. You will not be billed until the metering program is completed and the system is online.

I live part time in a 35 townhouse complex. Will I have my own water meter, or will I have to share in the cost of 34 other units with about 20 residences being full time?

No, the Town will be looking to implement a One Meter, One Property approach to metering.

We have a fairly new house. Would a water meter have been installed when it was constructed? How do I find out?

Most new construction is outfitted with a water meter, the meter would be located in the vicinity of the buildings main water shut off, near the point where the water service enters the building.

What is the manganese value mg/L presently in Osoyoos water system?

We have three wells that produce manganese at approximately 0.10 – 0.15 mg/L while two other well sites produce significantly lower concentrations.

I have a newer house with a water meter installed as per Osoyoos Building Requirements. Will I be reimbursed or will I be paying for everyone else's meters via Taxation?

The cost of water metering will be shared amongst all water users, whether you have a meter or not.

What are the levels of Chlorine and Fluoride in our drinking water in Osoyoos?

Chlorine levels can vary depending on location throughout the system. Chlorine residuals will be between 0.2 and 2.0 mg/L. The Town of Osoyoos does not add Fluoride to the distribution system. However, some of our wells have naturally forming amounts of Fluoride in them.

What are the water-sourcing options for our Town?

We have two options: utilizing groundwater by drilling new wells (Groundwater Treatment Plant) or drawing water from Osoyoos Lake (Surface Water Treatment Plant).

Why is the Surface Water Treatment Plant the preferred option?

The Surface Water Treatment Plant is preferred due to its higher quality water source, simpler treatment processes, and lower capital cost of $51.7 million compared to $61.5 million for groundwater.

What were the key factors considered in choosing the water source?

Carollo's study evaluated source water availability, raw water infrastructure, treatability, operations and maintenance, and financial implications. Surface water scored favourably in most categories.

What are the next steps in the water treatment project?

Finalizing procurement methods, confirming the facility location engaging with stakeholders and regulatory bodies, and initiating the permitting and design phase. Construction is set to begin in Fall 2025 and is expected to take two to three years.