The city now has an alternative water source should disaster strike, in the form of the newly completed $10-million North Thompson emergency water intake.
City staff on Thursday toured media through the facility at 720 Yates Rd. in Westsyde.
Final testing recently wrapped up after construction concluded in late 2018.
City of Kamloops utility services manager Greg Wightman said the facility will be used in the event of contamination of the South Thompson River.
“The challenge we have in Kamloops, we’ve got the rail corridors running along our river and major highway systems,” he said.
“The potential for something like that to occur like in Vavenby or what we just saw in Field, B.C., there, it’s certainly possible and that’s why we built this system.”
Vavenby water was impacted earlier this year after a semi-truck crash dumped diesel into the North Thompson river and a train derailment in Field on Monday killed three people.
In the event of similar emergency in Kamloops, water will be pumped from the North Thompson at Yates Road to the North Kamloops reservoir, where gravity feeds it to the River Street pump station. It could then provide non-potable water to residents for indoor use and be used for fire protection.
System limitations would prohibit irrigation during that time.
The emergency intake would not provide residents with clean drinking water, in which case the community would be on a boil-water advisory.
The city perviously had no backup plan. Had disaster struck, the city would have been put on a do-not-use order, similar to Vavenby.
Still, no major incidents have occurred and former councillor Donovan Cavers said he would “eat [his] shorts” should the intake be needed in his lifetime.
“I think it’s one of those things where you don’t think you need it until the day that you do,” Wightman said.
“And, certainly, when the day comes, if it does come that we need to shut down our intake on the South Thompson and we’re able to provide fire protection in this community and people are still able to use their showers and toilets, indoor water use there, then I think everyone will understand the value of the system.”
Approxiately $6 million in funding came from the clean water and wastewater federal infrastructure grant, while $300,000 was paid for through development cost charges (fees levied on developers).
The remainder came from water utility fees.
The project was initially expected to cost $8.7 million and be completed in fall 2017.
“A lot of what it was was environmental because we were working in the North Thompson river,” Wightman said.
“Obviously, a lot of environmental oversight to make sure that we’re doing everything as we should. That’s what drove that project up toward the $10 million cost.”