The District of Peachland formed a Healthy Watershed Committee (HWC) under the direction of Mayor and Council in 2018. The HWC is a working committee to Council. Its purpose is to provide support to Council, Corporate Operations and the community on matters affecting water quality and quantity, PWPA likes to also add timing of flow, in the Peachland Creek and Trepanier Creek watersheds. The Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance (PWPA) is privileged to have a seat on this committee.
The unprecedented impacts of climate change such as the fires, drought and extreme heat we saw through the summer and recently the devastating floods this winter, continue to emphasize that now more than ever, investments in watershed resiliency across the province must be a priority to address these issues, mitigate damages and ward off a future crisis. To make this happen, we need strong and appropriate leadership from many levels of government, especially the provincial government. We are fortunate Peachland’s current council has prioritized water and put watershed security on its radar.
Now that the entire town’s water supply is sourced only from Peachland Creek, keeping this watershed healthy is even more urgent, there is NO plant B for domestic or agriculture water in Peachland; we cannot revert to wells, we have no aquifers, drawing from the lake against gravity is too cost prohibitive, trucking in or buying bottled water is out of the question. If we cannot keep the source of our drinking water protected for humans as well as all watershed users, is will be a crisis for this community.
In 2016 a local survey placed water highest in taxpayer demands, 71% wanted reliable water quality, quantity and timing of flow. As a municipality, the district could only act on one of these matrices, water quality, so it pursued the recommendations of the Water Master Plan in earnest and moved forward on a Water Treatment Plant (WTP). Now it is 2022 and the entire town is serviced by year-round clean water. The brand new WTP started operations in April 2021 at a cost of just over $24 million, of which the municipality contributed roughly $17 million.
The Healthy Watershed Committee was invited to tour the WTP last November 25, Shawn Grundy, head of District Operations lead a through fascinating and informative session, here are some PWPA observations:
- It is evident this 3-stage system (filtration, chlorination and UV) is superior to our previous chlorination plant
- It is obvious where the 24M was spent, the site preparation, physical building, specialized equipment and sophisticated technology is impressive.
- It is clear that if water quality entering the plant is cleaner, it will result in lower costs overall in filters, chemicals and labour therefor source water protections remain essential for efficient, safe and reliable Peachland water quality.
- This WTP is not ‘complete’, as the town grows so will the need for water and greater treatment capacity. The tour also confirmed the need for an upgrade to the secondary treatment stream.
The proposed WTP upgrade that is for the secondary treatment stream came as a surprise to the taxpayers of this town. It is specifically backwash water treatment. Water flows on top of the filter beds, passes through and comes out clean on the other side. The filters trap all the particles, sand, manure etc. and eventually become “loaded” enough that they no longer pass water through effectively and as such, have to be cleaned or backwashed. This is a combination of high-volume air and water passing through from the underside, fluidizing the beds and picking up all of that “junk” in the filters. This dirty water is transported to the backwash chamber.
Initially, the plan was to slowly inject that backwash water into the process at the front of the plant (as per best practices, no more than 10% of incoming flow). Although the backwash chamber is constantly mixed, it would still result in different water qualities being pumped back to the head of the plant.
While it might not seem like much of an issue, it makes it almost impossible for the WTP crew to get a steady state for treatment. For example, a chemical adjustment might be made to accommodate a water quality change but by the time the process sees that change, the backwash injection causes the incoming quality to be different again.
It has to do with both the fluctuating water quality entering the plant but not that which is coming in from environment. That said, source water protection and less fluctuations in the environmental water quality are never a bad thing….and better quality water entering the plant would eventually help cut costs (less chemical injection, etc) but it would not directly affect this proposed upgrade related to the operational side of things than it is source protection, but as stated before, the cleaner your source water for fish, wildlife, swimming, fishing, drinking and treating at our new WTP, the better for everyone. If the District ever offers an open house or tour of the plant make sure to go, it is well worth it.