Kelowna Joint Water Committee Water Servicing Plan

Posted December 2005

Courtesy of the South East Kelowna Irrigation District

The Kelowna Joint Water Committee (KJWC) consists of the five major water utilities servicing the City of Kelowna. They are the Black Mountain Irrigation District, the City of Kelowna Water Utility, the Glenmore Ellison Improvement District, Rutland Waterworks District, and the South East Kelowna Irrigation District.

In 2005, the KJWC recently updated the long-range water-servicing plan for Kelowna that was originally produced in 1995. The comprehensive report explores a number of water-related issues, including: a review of source capacity in relation to water licenses; plan drawings for the major water supply components and pressure zones; a summary of water system strengths and weaknesses; plans for capital improvements for all five utilities; and a plan for future water service boundaries for all lands within city limits.

The KJWC report closely reflects the City of Kelowna’s Official Community Plan, which was last updated in 2000, and is a comprehensive planning framework for providing water service to the city to the year 2020.

The report contains some interesting findings. For example, in an average year, about 32 percent of the total water license capacity of all utilities is used. However, the variability of water use from year to year is affected significantly by weather. Hot, dry years can increase water demand upwards of 20 percent above the average. Weather, in fact, has a greater impact on water demand than growth. The report concludes that, with effective demand management in place, current water license capacity is expected to be adequate to handle increased demand to the year 2020.

Also of interest is that 57 percent of the city’s water source comes directly from the watersheds in the hills east of Kelowna. Runoff from these watersheds also recharges local groundwater aquifers and fills Lake Okanagan. Of course, these upland sources rely on annual snow melt to recharge storage reservoirs and are vulnerable to shortages due to drought. Given the relatively low volume of these reservoirs, they are also particularly sensitive to water quality impacts from land uses such as cattle grazing, forestry, and recreation.

The report notes that local authorities have no jurisdiction over these multi-use crown lands and that protecting these source water supplies relies on stewardship initiatives of regional and provincial authorities such as the Ministry of Environment and Interior Health. Despite repeated requests by local authorities for action on a number of fronts, these agencies have done little or nothing to advance source water protection in our watersheds to date. The report recommends the KJWC continue to work toward encouraging proactive source water protection policies and initiatives by those ministries and agencies with authority over crown land use.

The entire report is available online at www.sekid.ca