WATER NEWS

Summer Water Challenge

July 30th, 2019

If you are a freshwater lover and enthusiast here is a fun new challenge being launched this summer! The #SummerWaterChallenge is a social media contest to encourage ... More »

Kudos for Metro Vancouver’s Water Quality

Despite occasional boil water advisories and dramatic turbidity events Metro Vancouver and our local municipal water works deserve our appreciation. Safe drinking water is something that we have taken for granted. Yet the maintenance of a safe drinking water system is increasingly expensive, challenging and complex.

Water System Fiascos

Water related challenges are confronting virtually every community around the world. Growing populations, climate changes, new contaminants and century-old waterworks demand new and improved water systems. An alarmingly high number of cities in North America are not able to respond to these demands. Many of these cities cannot finance needed improvements and are turning their water systems over to huge European based corporations to manage their water quality. New Orleans, Atlanta, Georgia and Stockton, California are just a few examples. The results have been disastrous.

In light of this trend, it is particularly important for the residents of Metro Vancouver to appreciate and support our exceptional local water quality. Enviable steps are being taken by Metro Vancouver and our local municipalities to maintain and improve our water delivery infrastructures.

While a growing number of North American municipalities are facing disastrous consequences because they cannot keep up with the expenses involved in maintaining aging water treatment systems, Metro Vancouver and our local municipalities are successfully maintaining a publicly funded water supply that is superior to most water systems anywhere in North America and the world.

New Water Filtration Project Bringing Better Water Quality

Yes, there are challenges. Yet look at the steps that are being taken. Our new $600 million Seymour/Capilano water filtration plant is under construction. This massive upgrade to our water treatment system is a strategic step toward maintaining a sustainable and equitable supply of high quality drinking water to our communities.

Our present and future water quality is actively protected by routine monitoring of our drinking water quality, the water mains flushing program, and thorough emergency response plans. It is important that the residents of Metro Vancouver value and support these measures.

Turbidity Events and Boil Water Advisories Soon to be History

Even during the height of the November 2006 turbidity events, contrary to media suggestion, the microbiological quality of Greater Vancouver’s drinking water was not compromised. Although the turbid water was not appealing, it was still safe to consume. Careful monitoring detected no fecal coliform or e-coli. Turbidity in itself is not a contaminant.

Metro Vancouver turbidity readings are posted daily.

When our new Water Filtration Project is complete it is anticipated that episodes of elevated turbidity levels and boil water advisories will be eliminated.

Metro Vancouver’s Drinking Water Quality has Multiple Safeguards

Our drinking water comes from wilderness watersheds to which access is restricted. This protected water source is one of our greatest luxuries in Metro Vancouver. Let’s not take it for granted. Most cities get their water from sources heavily exposed to pollutants from agriculture, industry or human habitat.

Our source waters are monitored by Metro Vancouver’s Water District for turbidity, pH, micro organisms (bacteria, giardia and cryptosporidium), volatile organic compounds, disinfection by-products, herbicides, pesticides, radioisotopes, and metals.

The water is then delivered to 18 member municipalities who maintain the distribution system to our homes and businesses. Each municipality has testing stations to monitor temperature, pH, turbidity, chlorine residuals, micro organisms (bacteria, including e-coli), disinfection by-products, and metals. For example, Vancouver has 52 of these sampling stations that test the physical and chemical properties of the water on a regular basis. You can see monthly online test results for your area (if you live in the City of Vancouver).

Microbiological samples are collected at each testing site and submitted to the BC Centre for Disease Control for analysis. This is the testing for bacteria and viruses. Drinking water samples are collected 4 days per week throughout the year.

If you compare drinking water stewardship programs around the world, the residents of Metro Vancouver are in an enviable position. We have great water. Let’s love it, locally.