Where does Osoyoos drinking water come from?
If you live within the Town limits, your water comes from six deep wells located throughout town and is tested each week by a laboratory in Kelowna for coliform and e-coli. Rarely are there problems noted and its drinking water exceeds Canada Drinking Water guidelines. Town water is not fluoridated or chlorinated.
After Town water is used, it passes through the sewers to the wastewater treatment plant located near the Osoyoos Golf & Country Club. There it is treated (cleaned) again and the effluent used to water the nearby golf course and school fields. Solid waste (‘sludge’) is trucked to the Osoyoos landfill site and used to cover garbage there. Ponds at the landfill are used to store sewage from septic tanks.
If you live outside the Town boundary, your water is taken either from the lake itself or from the Okanagan River by means of pumping stations and is treated by a chlorination system.
The Regional District areas also use wells. Many private (domestic) wells around the lake are still showing high nitrate levels and are unsafe to drink from unless heavily treated. In 2001, 8 of 13 wells tested showed above the Canadian guideline of 10mg/L. All of the three aquifers in the Osoyoos watershed are noted to have high nitrate levels. There are also 10 piezometers (tubes some 20 feet into the groundwater) around Osoyoos, which are monitored every September for water quality. These results are available from our Society on request.
Osoyoos water has a high natural pH (level of hardness) which may affect the taste. Many people in Osoyoos feel it is safer to use bottled water: this is a misconception because bottled water is not subject to the same strict monitoring guidelines as tap water.
There has been much media attention directed towards the poor drinking water record of British Columbia, with its many boil-water orders and concerns with lake and river water quality. As a result, in 2001 the provincial government reviewed and updated its Drinking Water Protection Act.