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‘Game changer’: Province provides Osoyoos with $9 million to improve drinking water

Work on the water treatment plant to be worked on ‘immediately,’ town says
View of Osoyoos Lake looking north from Oroville, WA. Photo courtesy Neil Bousquet/Osoyoos Lake Water Quality Society)

The B.C. government on Wednesday announced $9 million in funding to help improve drinking water in Osoyoos.

Upgrades are coming to the town’s water treatment plant, as well as the construction of new infrastructure to treat groundwater and remove manganese, according to the province’s Minister of Municipal Affairs Anne Kang.

“We know that making important infrastructure upgrades like this one will help improve life for British Columbians and strengthen communities within our province,” Kang said on June 28, in Osoyoos.

The province says the $9 million in support will go toward making sure water is properly disinfected with chlorine and ultraviolet systems.

Upgrades — described as a “game changer” by Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff — are expected to meet the Guidelines of Canadian Drinking Water Quality and Interior Health’s (IH) drinking water standards.

“We could not be happier right now,” McKortoff said. “Council worked hard to communicate this number one priority to the province.”

The project will include the construction of a raw-water line to treat groundwater, the province says.

“We are going to start moving on this project immediately,” said Jared Brounstein, the town’s director of operational services.

“With this funding announced, the town will start the design stage for the water treatment and related water system upgrades in the coming months, and we are hopeful that construction can start in 2024.”

Brounstein added that the project has an estimated construction timeline of two years and will address the ongoing water quality concerns in Osoyoos once completed.

Many residents have taken to social media to share photos of brown water coming out of their faucets.

This prompted the town and IH to issue joint warnings last summer, asking people to boil their water because of water-quality concerns.

The project is funded through the province’s Critical Community Infrastructure Fund.

Osoyoos, like all municipalities, was also recently on the receiving end of B.C.’s $1-billion Growing Communities Fund.

“Today’s announcement was critical to our community,” Osoyoos’ mayor added. “It will have a positive impact on our residents, businesses, and visitors for decades.”

READ MORE: Sinks fill with brown water in Osoyoos