Creating Wetlands for Environmental Sustainability

Skier in mid-air as they perform a jump trick
A trail next to a wetland with a mountain in the distance
A bird standing next to a wetland surrounded by greenery

Funding provided through the Canada Community-Building Fund

An Okanagan Falls wetland is leading the way in environmental sustainability and community well-being. Located next to the Okanagan Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), the wetland showcases how thoughtful planning and environmentally friendly initiatives can lead to significant positive impacts.

What is Effluent?

Effluent refers to the treated and sanitized wastewater discharged from a treatment plant into the environment, ensuring that the released water poses minimal harm to surrounding ecosystems.

The Okanagan Falls WWTP has been servicing 750 properties, including single-family homes, multi-family residences, commercial establishments, recreational areas, and institutional facilities since 2013. It uses a Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) process to eliminate organics and nutrients from wastewater. The treated discharge, known as effluent, is well within permitted limits of inspection targets. In recognition of its environmental consciousness, the plant was honoured with the Green Award in 2013 by the Southern Interior Construction Association for its excellence in design and construction for environmental consciousness.

With support from the Government of Canada, a Polishing Wetland was established next to the treatment plant in 2023, further enhancing sustainability efforts.

What are Wetlands?

They are areas submerged by water like marshes and swamps that support biodiversity, filter water, and control floods, while offering scenic landscapes.

The wetland created a natural ecosystem, further improving the effluent quality before it reaches the Okanagan River. It has become the home for various vegetation and animals, such as a large painted turtle population, and hosting 108 bird species, including Yellow-breasted Chats, a federally-designated critical habitat species.

Beyond its environmental achievements, the wetland serves as a potential research, education, and interpretation site, fostering community awareness and environmental education.

Yellow bird in grass

Today, the Okanagan Falls Polishing Wetland stands fully operational, serving not just as an ecological asset but as a testament to infrastructure initiatives that champion our environment. It symbolizes a significant stride toward a sustainable future, safeguarding the Okanagan River and its ecosystems, while providing a beautiful and educational space for generations to come.

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Quick facts:

  • Okanagan Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) commissioned in 2013, services 750 properties.
  • Wetland reduces environmental risks, ensuring approximately an additional 1/3 reduction of nitrogen and phosphorous entering the Okanagan River.
  • The wetland ecosystem provides homes to several species of vegetation and animals.
  • The project aims to serve as a research, education, and interpretation site, contributing to community awareness and environmental education.