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Water Today Title July 7, 2022

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Updated 2017/5/31
Holiday Water Report 2017



By Ronan O'Doherty

British Columbia is renowned for its National Parks that encompass a wide variety of terrain from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast.

Although the licence plate motto "Beautiful British Columbia" might conjure up images of fresh mountain streams that a visitor could simply scoop drinking water up with their hands when thirsty, tourists planning on visiting the parks would do well to be as prepared to acquire drinking water as any of the national parks in the other nine provinces.

Pacific Rim National Park is located on Vancouver Island. Famed for the West Coast Trail, a multiple day, 75km hike not recommended for the novice wanderer, they finished upgrading their water system which is utilizing two drilled wells last year. Hikers who brave the trail should bring along a water purifying device or boil water, as it doesn't make sense to lug around a few days water from the beginning of the trip.

Gulf Islands National Park Reserve is an oceanic reserve made up of 15 islands off the coast of Vancouver Island.

Potable water is available at four locations: the McDonald Campground in North Saanich (which is serviced by municipal water), Sidney Spit on Sidney Island, Roesland Day Use Area on Pender Island and Prior-Centennial Campground on Pender Island (the latter three of which are serviced by on-site wells).

On the mainland, Glacier National Park and Mount Revelstoke are popular draws, located on major thoroughfares, that are fairly close to one another.

Visitors to Glacier can find potable water at the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre where it is available year round during open hours. Water at this site comes from a well.

In addition both the Illecillewaet and Loop Brook campgrounds have drinking water available through the summer. Water treatment systems at both locations process surface water from nearby creeks.

At Mount Revelstoke National Park, the Giant Cedars and Skunk Cabbage day use areas have drinking water available throughout the summer. Like their counterparts at Glacier, water treatment systems at both locations process surface water from nearby creeks. Drinking water is also available at the Nels Nelson Ski Chalet, but only when the facility is open for special events or groups. Water at this facility is from a well.

According to Parks Canada, drinking water in Mount Revelstoke and Glacier national parks is tested daily for turbidity and chlorine levels. Water samples are sent in for more comprehensive laboratory analysis on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis depending on the location and water source.

The adventurous sorts, who are eager to get off the beaten track in these parks will want to be extra prepared. In addition to a GPS (or compass for those loathe to rely on new technology) and bear spray, water purification tools are highly recommended. A UV wand, filtered water pumps, iodine tablets or boiling water will all do the trick.

If opting for the latter, wilderness sites will advise that campers boil their water for a little longer the higher above sea level they are. Since the boiling point of water is higher in higher altitudes, it can't hurt to add on a minute or two to avoid getting ill.

Visitors who are unsure of how to be prepared can visit the Parks Canada's website for the park they're planning on checking out. It will provide helpful tidbits on what to bring as well as information on any water advisories that might be in place.

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