A Boil Water Notice issued April 11, 2019 remains in effect for the users of the Sunnybrae Water System, however, it is expected to be short term due to conditions created by spring melt and run-off.
As required by Interior Health, the precautionary notice has been issued due to higher than normal concentration of particles in the water. This is known as turbidity, which makes the water appear murky. It can also cause interference with the water treatment plant's disinfection process. Particles in the water can potentially shield bacteria from the ultraviolet (UV) and chlorination processes used to ensure the supply is safe for public consumption.
Turbidity is measured in units known as NTU and when the turbidity of the water exceeds 5 NTU, a Boil Water Notice must be issued. Currently, the turbidity in the Sunnybrae water system is fluctuating between 3 and 20 NTU. The water treatment system monitors turbidity levels continuously, 24 hours a day.
As the Sunnybrae water Treatment Plant became operational fairly recently, some residents are concerned the Boil Water Notice means the plant is not operating properly. This is not the case.
"I want to assure the community the new plant is working exactly as it is intended," says Terry Langlois, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District's Team Leader of Utilities. "The Sunnybrae plant is not a filtration plant and as such is subject to changes in Shuswap Lake water quality, especially spring freshet."
The Sunnybrae water system treats raw water with UV light and chlorine, but does not have a complex filtration system. This is because adding filtration to the plant would cost an additional $2 to $3 million – a cost that would have had to be borne by the taxpayers in the Sunnybrae area.
"It was felt that spending that kind of money to deal with a seasonal water quality event lasting a few weeks would have overburdened our taxpayers," says Langlois.
Currently, only one of the CSRD's 10 water systems employs filtration.
Prior to the installation of the plant, users of the system had been on a Boil Water Notice for approximately nine years. Now, Langlois says a Boil Water Notice may take place in Sunnybrae for a few weeks per year, although this is completely dependent on conditions in the creeks and rivers entering the lake.
"It's completely out of our control. Turbidity is dictated by how fast the snow melts, how fast the water is flowing and how much sediment is being picked up. At this point we are still seeing the turbidity continuing to rise," says Langlois.
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