Primary and secondary solids are dewatered and composted. The final product is rich in nutrients and sold commercially.

Water reclamation & spray irrigation

The Operation Services division of the City of Vernon is responsible for the treatment and beneficial reuse of all residential, commercial and industrial wastewater generated in the Greater Vernon area (Vernon, parts of Coldstream, Okanagan Landing, and Blue Jay subdivision.

Wastewater is treated at the Vernon Water Reclamation Centre (VWRC). The centre is located at 2100 43rd Street and has been in operation at this location since the 1930s. Over the years, the VWRC has been expanded and upgraded a number of times and currently serves a population of 36,000 in Greater Vernon. Average daily flow at the VWRC is approximately 12,300 m3 (12,300,000 litres, 2.70 million Imperial Gallons, 3.25 million US Gallons).

Wastewater undergoes primary, secondary and tertiary treatment at the VWRC. Treatment works include fine screening, grit removal, primary clarification, biological nutrient removal, secondary clarification, and during irrigation season (May-Oct),  sand filtration and ultraviolet disinfection.

Reclaimed Water

Reclaimed water is the end product from a municipal wastewater treatment facility that is suitable for reuse as determined by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment.

Following tertiary treatment at the VWRC, most reclaimed water (more than 98%) is pumped 10km to the MacKay Reservoir on Commonage Road. The remaining reclaimed water is pumped to the Rise Golf Course, where it is used for irrigation.  From late April to early October, reclaimed water is drawn out of MacKay Reservoir, chlorinated and used as irrigation water on approximately 970 Ha (2400 acres) of land in the Commonage area south of Vernon.

This is referred to as the spray irrigation program. Areas irrigated with reclaimed water include Predator Ridge Golf Resort, Vernon Golf & Country Club, The Rise Golf Course, Vernon Seed Orchard, Kalamalka Forestry Centre and Pacific Regeneration's Vernon Nursery, as well as large areas of agricultural land used for grazing and hay production. In addition, public areas, such as Marshall Fields benefit from reclaimed water use.

Is reclaimed water safe?

Reclaimed water from MacKay Reservoir is of high quality. The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy allows reclaimed water from MacKay Reservoir to be used in areas with unrestricted public access, such as golf courses and playing fields. However, reclaimed water is not intended to be directly consumed by people. Similar to other drinking water in the North Okanagan, it should be processed by a water treatment plant prior to consumption.

How much wastewater does the VWRC treat every day?

The VWRC receives and treats approximately 13 million litres of influent (wastewater) every day. This is equivalent to nearly five Olympic-sized swimming pools.

What is the treatment process at the VWRC?

The comprehensive treatment process at the VWRC includes: influent pumping and screening; grit removal; primary clarification; biological nutrient removal (BNR); secondary clarification; sand filtration; and UV disinfection.

How is treated reclaimed water used after it is pumped to MacKay Reservoir?

Reclaimed water in MacKay Reservoir is chlorinated and used to irrigate local golf courses, ball diamonds, soccer pitches, agricultural land used for grazing and hay production, two seed orchards, a seedling nursery and other tree plantations. The spray irrigation program is permitted by the B.C. Ministry of Environment and allows the City to reuse valuable water resources and provide a unique service to land owners in the North Okanagan region.

Is treated reclaimed water from the VWRC safe for irrigation and the environment?

Yes. The VWRC’s high quality reclaimed water meets public health criteria through the Ministry of Environment (Ministry) to be used for high use public and private areas. The Ministry has deemed it safe for Okanagan Lake and the surrounding ecosystem.

Is treated reclaimed water from the VWRC safe to drink?

Treated reclaimed water from the VWRC is of high quality, however, it is not intended to be directly consumed by people. Similar to other drinking water in the North Okanagan, it should be processed by a water treatment plant prior to consumption.

Do other communities discharge treated reclaimed water to Okanagan Lake?

Yes. Communities located along Okanagan Lake (including the City of Kelowna, City of West Kelowna, District of Summerland and City of Penticton) discharge the majority of their treated reclaimed water to Okanagan Lake or adjacent water courses every day.

What factors led to MacKay Reservoir nearing its maximum storage capacity elevation in 2021?

During the last four years (2017 – 2020), there has been a significant reduction in the use of reclaimed water from MacKay Reservoir. This has been due to factors outside the City’s control, including: wet weather in spring and summer; cooler temperatures; increased cloud cover; smoke from wildfires; and atypical rainfall. With all of these contributing factors, the use of reclaimed water was reduced in order to prevent the oversaturation of the pasture and crop lands and recreational spaces that use the City of Vernon spray irrigation program