Consultants will begin work soon on a plan to seal a potentially dangerous gap in the Naramata water system.
Right now, the system operates without a back-up generator to provide electricity in the case of a power outage, meaning it has limited ability to maintain water flow during an emergency.
“In the summer, probably minutes if it was a fire,” engineer Liisa Bloomfield last week told the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.
“When we lose power, we lose all ability to pump up the hill and to replenish what’s in the reservoirs.”
The board accepted her recommendation that a $52,700 contract be awarded to AECOM Canada to draw up plans for a back-up power system and oversee its eventual construction.
RDOS Naramata Director Karla Kozakevich said the water reservoirs were drained after a two-hour power outage during the irrigation season last summer.
“If it’s sort of off-season, like now, you’re looking more like half a day,” she said.
Back-up power was a component of a planned water system upgrade in 2007, but was left out due to budget constraints, according to an RDOS staff report, and it’s now a priority of the Naramata Water Advisory Committee.
“Is there going to be an interface forest fire or something where we lose power and we also run out of water? What are the odds that are going to happen?” Kozakevich said.
“I don’t like to play those odds. Whether it’s life or property, that’s what we want to look after.”
Kozakevich said AECOM will come up with a firm cost estimate for the back-up power system, after which the RDOS could apply for grants to build the project or pay for it out of the water utility reserve.
Naramata’s water is pumped uphill from Okanagan Lake to a series of reservoirs and a treatment plant, then gravity-fed back downhill to users.
A consultant recommended last year that Naramata abandon plans to twin its water system to split agricultural and residential use, and instead focus on upgrading aging equipment.