Water Quality

#202-3320 Richter Street
Kelowna, BC
V1W 4V5

Lakeview Heights residents have said that good quality water is the most important priority for us.  So Lakeview Heights Community Association (LHCA) is keeping a close eye on developments.   We all know that a new water treatment plant is the permanent solution to the problem, but that won’t arrive until 2021 or later, so what is to be done in the near term.
The cause of the problem is algae (a large group of organisms) and in particular a microscopic family of algae called cyanobacteria that is frequently found on land and water.  If you can’t get your mind round algae and bacteria, think of them as weeds, some are pretty some are edible and some are nasty, like thistles.  
Cyanobacteria is a microscopic plankton, a plant too small to see, reacting to warmth and sunlight, just like weeds in your garden in springtime, only Cyanobacteria spreads and grows way more quickly than weeds, creating what is called a bloom, and this is when we have a water quality problem.  The bloom adds to the already moderate to high amounts of organic material in the reservoir which in turn can physically mask pathogens reducing the effectiveness of chlorine treatment.  Basically, the algae bloom pushes the turbidity past the safe limits.  This is why it is so important to prevent large algae blooms, you can think of a bloom like a fog, obscuring a car driver’s vision, so you don’t know if the road is free of dangers or not.  Large blooms force the CWK to declare either a Water Advisory.  If the there is a lot of bacteria it will be a Boil Water advisory, if it is less it is a Water Quality Advisory.
Cyanobacteria like weeds grow faster when there are more nutrients in the water, one way nutrients get into the water is when soil gets washed down the streams feeding the reservoir.  CWK can adjust the automated head gate on Lambly Creek to minimize the amount of nutrient entering Rose Valley Dam especially during freshet or large rain events, also aeration of the reservoir helps.  Cyanobacteria and weeds can be eradicated using chemicals.  Some weeds come early in the year and some late, so do cyanobacteria, therefore, treatment should start early and continue to freeze over.  If you want to control weeds you need to remove them from the whole garden not just one area, so treatment of the whole reservoir is important.  
So what has LHCA done about water quality?  We have written to the incoming Mayor suggesting that as we have had cyanobacteria blooms for two tears in a row, we should anticipate a bloom again next year and take action now to eradicate it, he has told us “I will be challenging City staff to find ways to improve our water quality between now and the date that the new treatment plant will be in service.“
Hopefully things will improve, we will keep this under review.