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Water Today Title July 7, 2022

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Advisory of the Day



In Canada, most of us take for granted that the water that comes out our tap is safe. Most of us also take for granted that systems that provide our drinking water are controlled by public institutions. In British Columbia there are more than 4,000 small water systems usually serving rural and remote areas.

Small water supply systems that are in the province can be controlled privately or through a public institution. A private water supply system can be operated as sole proprietorships, societies, partnerships, stratas or corporations. These smaller systems face a number of issues such as aging infrastructure, inadequate treatment, and lack of funding.

The problems that private systems face raise serious concerns for drinking water. According to the BC Centre for Disease Control any owner of a water utility is responsible for ensuring that "drinking water is properly treated before delivering it to those who drink it." Untreated water can become contaminated which is the source of water-borne infections.

Drinking water in B.C. is regulated by a collection of legislations and is overseen by various departments. The two key statutes protecting B.C. water are the Drinking Water Protection Act (DWPA) which provides an outline. And Drinking Water Protection Regulation (DWPR) which sets out the specific requirements for water supply systems.

Whether private or public water, suppliers in British Columbia must provide treatment, construction and operation of the system, monitoring, reporting and public notification.

Are there concerns regarding private water supply systems in apartment buildings and condominium projects in Greater Vancouver? I spoke with Tony Gioventu, the Executive Director of the Condominium Home Owners Association of BC (CHOA), to gain some insight. Condo buildings with private water supply systems are "virtually non-existent" in Vancouver.

In this case the short answer to the is no. According to Gioventu it "has never been a trend in BC" to have private water installations in apartment and condo buildings. So if you are moving into a new condominium in Greater Vancouver it is most likely that your water will come from the city itself.

If you are supplied by a small water supply system and are concerned over the quality of your water here are a few steps you can take. Ensure that your supplier performs timely maintenance, treats the water adequately, has a financial plan to provide for the longevity of the system, tests the water regularly and has access to laboratories, and reports any changes in water quality.

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