Sewer service in Oliver is available to most properties inside the municipal boundaries. Only some agricultural areas remain without access to this service. In the early 1990s, two major sewer collection system extensions were implemented to service the Tucelnuit and Rockcliffe areas that had recently been incorporated into the municipality.
The Tucelnuit project provided service to over 200 homes that had previously been serviced by private septic systems on the perimeter of Tucelnuit Lake. The Rockcliffe extension also serviced over 200 homes previously on private septic systems, immediately uphill from one of the municipality’s water supply wells. Over 95% of residents in these areas have since voluntarily connected to the sewer system.
In the early 1980s Oliver embarked on a significant change in direction with respect to sewage treatment and disposal. Prior to 1980, Oliver’s sewer flows were treated, disinfected and disposed of into the Okanagan River. Since that time, sewage has been considered a valuable resource, treated and used for irrigation.
This change made it possible to develop the Fairview Mountain Golf course into an 18-hole championship facility. Fairview Mountain is now entirely irrigated with reclaimed water. The treatment facilities were removed from the centre of the municipality to a remote location west of town. The resulting treatment plant is based on an aerated lagoon process which is very easy and cost effective to operate. The reclaimed water winter storage reservoir has created a new habitat area for a variety of native plant and animal species.
As the community (and its sewer system) grew, surplus water became available for irrigation purposes. The Town’s Liquid Waste Management Plan, approved by the Minister of Environment, allocated several parcels of crown land for conversion to agriculture to make beneficial use of this commodity.
Unfortunately, the Province has since decided not to make this land available to the Town, leaving the Town in a surplus water situation. As a result, the Town is now supplying reclaimed water back into the municipality for irrigation use on the Oliver Cemetery, the Oliver Airport, Town parks, South Okanagan Secondary School, and some vineyards.