Vernon, B.C. – On April 5, Okanagan Indian Band held a Water Celebration to mark the completion of their water systems improvement project. Consequently, the community has been able to lift the long-term water quality advisory and ensure that it has enough water storage capacity to provide adequate fire protection.
Since May 10, 2019, Okanagan Indian Band community members have been affected by a water quality advisory, applied by the First Nations Health Authority of British Columbia, affecting one of the Band’s community water systems due to elevated levels of manganese. This meant that bottle-fed infants and expecting mothers had to use bottled water. In addition to the elevated levels of manganese, the community also did not have access to adequate water reservoir capacity, limiting their ability to provide sufficient fire protection.
The improvements made to the Six Mile/Bradley Creek system included upgraded water supply wells, expansion and updating of the water treatment system and doubling of reservoir capacity. This system was then connected to the Irish Creek/Head of the Lake system, where two new larger reservoirs and a control station were added. Testing has shown the water is now safe to drink.
Working in close partnership with community leadership, the Government of Canada invested $11.7 million to support these infrastructure upgrades to two of the Band’s water systems.
“The improvements to the water systems have brought relief to many members on reserve. We were always concerned about the quality of the water and having enough water for both domestic use and firefighting. With the improvements to the water systems, we are all breathing easier because people have clean water, our manganese warnings are no longer required, and we have enough water for emergencies such as fires.” – Chief Byron Louis
Okanagan Indian Band
“The completion of water system upgrades in the Okanagan Indian Band means that water quality advisories can be lifted, and better access to water reservoirs will mean better fire protection in the community. The federal government partnered with the Okanagan Indian Band for this project by investing $11.7 million towards the upgrades. Water is life, and this work together ensures healthy and safe access to water for generations to come.” – The Honourable Patty Hajdu Minister of Indigenous Services
- The Okanagan Indian Band is the northernmost community in the Syilx Nation at the head of Okanagan Lake near Vernon, BC.
- The Okanagan Indian Band has approximately 2,030 members, with about half residing on reserve.
- The community consists of seven reserves covering 11,282 hectares.