The Town of Oliver operates an extensive rural and municipal water system serving domestic water to approximately 2,393 residential customers, 174 industrial/commercial customers and irrigation water to 601 agriculture connections which equates to irrigating over 5,200 acres of farm land and 455 acres of non-farm land.
Water is supplied from a combination of underground and surface sources and varies with demand during different seasons.
The Water Utility is operated as a single, self-sufficient entity. Although the rural and municipal water systems do run somewhat independently, their costs and expenses are pooled in a single fund. Major past projects, mostly related to the irrigation supply system, have been jointly shared by all water users. The Water Fund has used a combination of reserves and grant money for upgrades and improvements to the water system. A majority of the spending started taking place from the first Twinning (PH 1) project which started in 2007.
Cross Connection Program
A cross connection is any actual or potential connection between a potable (drinking) water line and any pipe, vessel, or machine containing non-potable fluid, solid or gas, such that it has the potential to enter into the potable water system by backflow.
As a condition on Operating Permits issued by Interior Health, water suppliers are obligated to protect the integrity of their water supply system, protecting any potable water system includes a Cross Connection Control Program.
The simplest measure we can all take to reduce the risk involves ensuring an air gap exists between the tap or water outlet and the holding tank. For example, always ensure the garden hose is above the flood rim of the janitor bucket or sink. Remember: never leave a garden hose submerged.
Backflow is a flow of solid, liquid or gas from any source opposite to the normal direction of flow, back into the potable water supply/system.
There are 2 types of backflow, backsiphonage and backpressure:
Backsiphonage is caused by negative pressure in the supply piping. Some common causes of backsiphonage are:
- High velocity in pipelines
- Line repair or a break that is lower than a service point
- Lowered main pressure due to high water withdrawal rate such as fire fighting or water main flushing
- Reduced supply pressure on the suction side of a booster pump
Backpressure is caused whenever a potable system is connected to a non potable supply operating under a higher pressure by means of a pump, boiler, etc… There is a high risk the non potable water may be forced into the potable system whenever these interconnections are not properly protected.
A substance that could pose an immediate health concern because of the risk of death, spread of disease or illness, or injury to the customer if it were introduced into the potable water system.
A substance that would not impose an immediate health concern, but could result in the water in the purveyor’s system not meeting drinking water standards, or could interfere with the monitoring of water quality.
Whenever a plumbing fixture is connected to the potable water supply, a potential cross connection exists. Fortunately, many of the plumbing fixtures have built-in backflow protection. Listed below are commonly found cross connections in our water systems:
- Wash basins and service sinks
- Hose bibs
- Irrigation sprinkler systems
- Auxiliary water supplies
- Laboratory and aspirator equipment
- Processing tanks
- Water recirculation systems
- Swimming pools
- Solar heat systems
- Fire sprinkler systems
- Backflow devices must be tested after installation and yearly thereafter.
- Testing Companies – Need to register with FAST Tester?
- Testers, if you have any questions about the program, please contact MTS at 250-503-0893 or go to www.mtsinc.ca
- This list is provided for your convenience only – these testers are not endorsed by the Town.
Accurate Fire Protection, Kelowna, BC 250-717-6614 Action Plumbing & Heating, Osoyoos, BC 250-495-6368 A-Z Plumbing & Heating, Osoyoos, BC
Blair Mechanical Services Ltd. Kelowna, BC
Bradley Fire Protection & Backflow Services Ltd., Kelowna, BC
Custom Air, Penticton 250-493-7956 Kettle Valley Plumbing, Penticton, BC 250-486-1616 Kobau Plumbing & Gas Fitting Ltd, Osoyoos, BC
Nexus Fire & Safety Ltd, West Kelowna, BC
Southern Mechanical Services Inc., Penticton, BC
Troy Life & Fire Safety Ltd, Kelowna, BC 250-860-3991
Drought Management Plan
Gallagher Lake Rock-Slide
On January 25, 2016, a significant rock-slide occurred at Gallagher Lake impacting the siphon and flume which provides irrigation water to the Town of Oliver, Electoral Area C (rural Oliver) and the Osoyoos Indian Band. The Town of Oliver engaged engineers to assess the damage and works necessary to ensure operations in early April for the provision of water to the vast agricultural properties.
March 4 – Information
March 4 – News Release No. 1
March 14 – Information
March 24 – Information
April 1 – Information
April 14 – Irrigation Open Date Confirmed
June 3, 2016
Town Staff and the Town’s Engineering Consultant (TRUE) met with our hired Geo-technical Engineer (Golder Associates) and Rock Scaling company (T & A Rock Scaling) to discuss the mountain that caused the rock-slide damage at Gallagher. It was deemed unsafe to work under in certain conditions and could require further rock scaling but also cause further damage to the canal siphon. It was also deemed an unstable mountainside that could require over $1.2 million in rock scaling alone to make the working area below safe for machinery and workers. There were still no guarantees that the scaling would help enough and the Town needed to start looking at other options.
August 8, 2016
Council passed a resolution to give staff $30,000 to look into various options of fixing, replacing, or re-routing the damaged canal. TRUE Consulting, with the help of other Engineer Professionals, will look at various options in more detail so the Town of Oliver can make a better decision and look for a partner (Provincial & Federal) to help fund some of these costs. The options range from $4 million to $10.5 million at initial estimates.
August 23, 2016
Town Council and Staff met with the Minister of Agriculture, Norm Letnick, at the Town’s Council chamber to discuss what has happened to the damage canal, what has been done, implications of damages, and future fixes and costs. Mr. Letnick encouraged the Town to look at future fixes and costs and approach the Ministry and government again at the coming UBCM Convention held on September 26 – 30 with the most recent info they have.
Late irrigation is available for those customers who require irrigation water beyond the early October irrigation shut down date set by Council.
Late irrigation is charged per acre / per day. The late irrigation rate for 2023 is $1.95 / acre /day.
To apply for late irrigation, please fill out the following form and return to the Public Works Department.
The history of Oliver’s rural water system dates back to the early 1920s, and forms the beginning of Oliver’s very existence.
Following World War I, BC Premier “Honest” John Oliver initiated the Soldiers’ Settlement project in the South Okanagan. This initiative was designed to provide immediate and long term economic opportunities for soldiers recently returned from overseas. An ambitious water supply project was to be built between Vaseux Lake and the US Border to create thousands of farm-able acres, which would be sold to the new settlers.
An open-channel irrigation canal was built in the following years under the auspices of the South Okanagan Lands Project, supplying water by gravity to potentially serve 5,000 or so acres of land. Although the portion of canal south of Road 18 has since been abandoned, approximately 20 km remains in service today, serving as the life-line to most of the area’s farming community.
In the 1960s, the Provincial Government handed the irrigation system to local farmers, by creating the South Okanagan Lands Irrigation District (SOLID). A significant system upgrade was undertaken, converting much of the gravity-fed lateral ditches to pressurized pipelines. The main canal, locally known as “The Ditch”, continued in operation, however, to provide water to the four main irrigation pumping stations in the rural Oliver area. The elevation of the ditch, which is up to 30m above the level of the river in places, provided an important advantage in reducing the necessary pumping power and resultant annual power bills.
With a loss of provincial assistance, SOLID began supplying water to domestic customers in the rural area and along the edge of the Village of Oliver, as it was. The water rate charged to these customers played, and continues to play, an important role in keeping agricultural irrigation rates at a minimum.
Unfortunately, the irrigation system was never designed to meet today’s water quality requirements for residential use. Water quality concerns had confronted SOLID since it began supplying water for domestic use. During summer months, surface water was diverted into the canal from the Okanagan River and was used for irrigation and rural domestic customers alike. Treatment was limited to simple chlorination with minimal contact time.
In the late 1980s growth in Oliver and Osoyoos brought pressure on SOLID. Both municipalities were exploring boundary expansions and conflicts over who would continue to supply water to the growth areas; this was brought to the Province and again the South Okanagan water supply stage one more time. In late 1989, the Province dissolved SOLID and turned its assets and operations over to the Towns of Oliver (60%) and Osoyoos (40%).
During the 1990s, the Town of Oliver undertook a major $5 million rehabilitation and automation of the irrigation canal system. This project, funded under the initial Canada-BC Infrastructure program, placed over 3.5 km of canal underground, solving key rock-fall concerns of the past, repaired or replaced approximately 4 km of remaining open canal, upgraded several control structures, and automated much of the canal’s day-to-day operations. With continued maintenance, the canal is now seen to provide ongoing service for decades to come.
One of the greatest concerns was addressing the long-standing rural water quality issues. This was particularly pressing with past Cryptosporidium outbreaks in the Kelowna water system and of course, the E.Coli outbreak associated with the Walkerton Ontario water system. The Town determined the most cost effective approach to addressing this problem would include installing a parallel water system to serve rural domestic customers with ground source water (twinning). The alternate approach of treating all rural water was determined to be impractical as the water used for irrigation does not require treatment.
In the early 2000s, The Town started looking at a universal water metering project, and with the aid of grants was able to include rural water twinning (separate water lines) to supply both potable and irrigation water to our rural customers during the irrigation season. This was a huge undertaking but once completed it would provide our rural customers with drinking water that meets today’s water quality standards.
Construction on Phase 1 (Systems 6 & 7) of the rural water twinning project was completed in 2007 & 2008. This project also brought us a new well (Miller), new 150,000 US gallon reservoir (Road 13) and pipe twinning. Phase 2 (Systems 4, 5 and parts of system 1) were completed from 2009 to 2012. Phase 3 (System 1) was completed 2013.