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January 21st, 2023

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Vancouver’s New ‘Bluer’ Water

Metro Vancouver’s new Seymour Filtration Plant became fully operational in January 2010. Its launch marks phase one of a mammoth $800 million project slated for completion in 2013.

The filtration process removes turbidity (fine dirt) making larger volumes of water appear ‘bluer’. The process also reduces the amount of chlorine initially introduced into the water supply.

Water from the new filtration plant is temporarily being supplied to most parts of Metro Vancouver. This will change later this spring when unfiltered water from the Capilano reservoir (which has been temporarily closed) will once again supply Vancouver, Richmond, western Burnaby and western North Vancouver.

The still-to-be-completed phase of this huge project (Seymour-Capilano Filtration Project) will link the Capilano reservoir to the Seymour Filtration Plant via twin tunnels that are currently being bored through the mountain on the North shore.

Metro Vancouver’s water supply comes from three protected mountain reservoirs – Capilano, Seymour & Coquitlam.

Because these mountain reservoirs are located above human centres of activity, gravity is the natural and most cost effective means to shunt water downhill to our municipalities. However, if water supply or quality is compromised in one reservoir, cross-pumping can transport water from any reservoir to any part of the system.  For example, currently (May 1, 2010) the Capilano reservoir is closed and its regular recipients are being temporarily supplied by Seymour.

The new Seymour Filtration Plant uses a process called coagulation and flocculation to separate out sediment before chlorinating the water and sending it into the distribution network. When completed in 2013, the project will also incorporate a massive ultra-violet treatment process which will lessen, but not eliminate, the use of chlorine.

Improved filtration reduces the initial amount of chlorine introduced into the water. However, there are ‘booster’ stations located around the city that re-introduce chlorine en route to your tap. The purpose of this secondary chlorination is to maintain a lingering disinfectant action (called chlorine ‘residual’) in water as it travels through the distribution system. Proximity to one of these booster stations may result in stronger chlorine taste and odour in tap water at one location over another.