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Salute Kelowna's water utility frontline workers

When you turn on the tap in Kelowna, fresh, clean water never fails to flow.

"Definitely, that's our goal each and every day," said City of Kelowna water operations manager Andy Weremy.

"We deliver safe and reliable water that meets or exceeds Canadian drinking water standards to our 70,000 customers."

"Our customer base includes homes, businesses, institutions and farms within the city. Glenmore Ellison, Rutland Water Works and Black Mountain Irrigation Districts service the remaining similar customer base in Kelowna."

</who>City of Kelowna water utility supply workers Rhonda Hogan, left, and Don Sharpe do maintenance work at a pressure regulating valve station.

It's a huge infrastructure that's essential everyday and became even more important during the pandemic.

"Especially in the summer, when people were stuck at home their yard became their sanctuary and they kept their lawns and gardens beautiful with outdoor watering," said Weremy.

While Weremy is the manager, he says it's the 17 workers in the supply department and 10 in the distribution that keep everything running smoothly.

Supply workers see water drawn from Okanagan Lake at four treatment stations (Poplar Point, Cedar Creek, Swick Road and Eldorado) and disinfected with ultraviolet light and chlorine before being pumped to a series of large mains and reservoirs.

From there, the distribution crew takes over to oversee the water allocated to all the pipes under streets that go to homes, businesses, institutions, farms and fire hydrants.

</who>City of Kelowna water utility distribution workers Ben Callioux, left, and Ryan Duncan monitor the Leckie fill station.

The city's water utility also has a new agricultural division, which replaces the Southeast Kelowna Irrigation District, to distribute water from McCulloch Reservoir to orchards, vineyards and farms in the area.

In the winter, there’s demand for about 45 million litres of water a day through the entire system.

In the summer, when outdoor watering peaks, up to 90 million litres of water a day cycles through the whole utility.

"We definitely are an essential service and we know how important our role is," said Weremy.

"That's why we follow all the COVID protocols to keep ourselves and the water supply healthy."

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