INTERIOR HEALTH, BC: WATER INFORMATION NOW ONLY A FEW CLICKS AWAY
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In what must be a first in Canada, Interior Health (IH) in B.C. has a web-based interactive water map that provides detailed advisory information in the area administered by IH.
A couple of clicks at a location shows if there are advisories such as boil water, water quality or do not consume. As well, information that appears in a side window gives not only the advisory type but the reason for it, the location and contact information.
Chief Medical Health Officer for IH, Dr Trevor Corneil, said during an interview one of the main purposes of the map was to communicate with various stakeholders from the public to water suppliers.
"The public does not have a good awareness of the current state of the water system," Corneil explained.
In a May 24 press release accompanying the announcement, Corneil stated, "If there's an advisory on their system, they can make informed decisions related to possible health risks. This level of understanding is also important, as local communities discuss future investments in their public and private water systems."
Another factor guiding the map's creation was the size of the area administered by Interior Health, he explained. "The Interior region is from Hope to the Alberta border" east to west. From north to south the region starts at the "U.S. border up to Williams Lake. In that area, there are more than 200 large water systems and 1,500 small water systems. There's a wide diversity of water system purveyors."
The map comes on the heels of public consultation that included “water suppliers and operators, Environmental Health Officers, and representatives from organizations supporting water suppliers, municipalities, and other health authorities."
The map was devised following consultations in addition to a study of the region's drinking water systems, initially presented by Interior Health in its June 2017 report, "Drinking Water in Interior Health".
One of the report's key recommendations "was to develop and implement a more collaborative engagement process with water operators and other members of the community."
Interior Health is urging all residents to access and familiarize themselves with the map in addition to knowing their water supplier.
The map can be accessed at www.drinkingwaterforeveryone.ca.
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