by Judy Wyper

On November 1 I had a tour of our new Water Treatment Plant.  My guide was Marc Forcier, Chief Operator.  For two hours we looked at different parts of the plant.  Up, down, around and around.  Duplication is built into the whole system, for safety and efficiency.  During high volume operation, all three components of the various systems may be operative, but during a low volume time, like now, two are resting.  There is flex room for one system to be worked on with the other two taking the load.

There’s a flocculator.  Yes, it’s a real thing.  What a great word! It’s where they precipitate out of the water all the particulates we don’t want to drink. It gathers in bits and is processed through several steps in the flocculator, and then is sent on to the next purification steps. I won’t go into describing the whole plant, but it was impressive to see all that goes into delivering clean safe water to our taps.  I could see the monitors for pH, pathogens, and lots more.

Interior Health sets levels required for water purification, and our plant is maintained well and above those standards. The requirement for pathogen dose against Giardia is 7.7 and the dosage they are using is 22.  Similar results were seen for protection against cryptosporidium. I left feeling that our water treatment is in excellent hands.  These guys are water warriors in their own right.

Of course having safe drinking water only applies to the water that humans (and pets)  in Peachland consume. Water in the creeks and lakes can still be turbid, and polluted as a result of damaging activities in the watershed – so plants and animals that also rely on water are still struggling with excess turbidity, e-coli outbreaks, and an assortment of other “pollutants” in the water.

Marc is a fount of information and is happy to answer questions about the entire operation.  I even asked him about the level of our water reservoir, Peachland Lake.  He said that three years ago after the heat dome, the level was less than full pool, but for the past two years, the winter snowpack was sufficient to more than fill it to full pool.  Let’s hope we get another big snowfall this year.

After the tour, I took a drive into the watershed to see how things are looking.  Going up Princeton, I started to see snow on the ground among the trees, around Silver Lake.  By KM 10 it was on the side of the road. And then there were patches of ice and snow on the road.  Wherever the sun shone on the road, it was bare and dry.  Wherever the trees grew tall along the sides, I drove on the icy bits because the sun didn’t hit it.  This is a perfect example of how snow is retained in a forest.  Trees intercept the snow.  Some stays on the branches, some falls to the ground between the trees, but is shaded through the day, and that slows down the melting.  In a clearcut, much of the first snowfall melts as it is not shaded enough from the daytime warming and any sunshine.  Right now, a lot of the forested parts of our watershed are already collecting snow.  The forested parts are able to retain the snow much longer than those parts that are clearcut.

Our watershed needs protection, and of course that is what PWPA is all about.  The best way to protect a watershed is to maintain a healthy forest and ecosystems.  Trees provide a naturally free water protection service.