Schools in Prince Rupert were equipped with filtered water fountains after high levels of lead were detected in 2016. (Black Press files)

B.C.’s rural water systems need work to be safe, auditor says

Last water-borne illness outbreak was in 2004

B.C.’s health ministry needs a strategy for drinking water protection, particularly in smaller communities, Auditor General Carol Bellringer says.

Water-borne illnesses and health effects are not common in B.C. or across North America, but the province needs better oversight due to the large number of small rural water systems. About 90 per cent of the 4,800 water systems in B.C. are small, and 480,000 people rely on them for drinking water.

The report notes that the health ministry has online resources for protection and testing, such as flushing of pipes using lead solder that were discovered to be below water quality guidelines at schools in Prince Rupert in 2016. Bellringer recommends better inspection and reporting of compliance.

The ministry accepted the recommendations, including a legislative review to pull together responsibilities scattered across government departments for watersheds that are the source for most systems.

RELATED: Semiahmoo First Nation gets safe drinking water

RELATED: Water treatment ends long-running boil-water order

Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry made similar recommendations in a survey released in June. Among its 32 recommendations, it called for a “consistent sampling and reporting protocol for lead in drinking water for schools to follow,” and provincial guidelines for bulk water haulers who supply some rural residents.

Regional health authorities are continuing efforts to identify water systems with chronic, long-term boil water notices, and check training of drinking water officers.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Snowmaggedon 2020’ has passed, but 20-30 milimetres of rain expected Friday

Residents should brace for rain and clear drains to prevent localized flooding

What happens in the Cowichan Valley when an earthquake strikes

When an earthquake does happen, will the Cowichan Valley be ready for it?

Exploring life, the afterlife, and near death experiences with Dr. Lynn Echevarria

Echevarria will deliver a talk to the LRCA Seniors Centre Tuesday, January 21 at 1:30 pm

Winter storm warning now in effect for Island’s east coast

Environment Canada issues new weather warning late Wednesday afternoon

Town of Ladysmith snow removal crews prepared to respond to overnight snowfall

10 to 15 centimetres of snow are expected for Ladysmith overnight Tuesday into Wednesday morning

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Power lines cut as thieves strike Vancouver Island veterinary hospital

‘Thankfully there weren’t any animals or staff in the clinic when this happened’

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

Nanaimo mom will celebrate 40th in style after $500,000 lotto win

Crystal Giesbrecht matches all four numbers on BC/49 Extra

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Vancouver Island Pride weekend returns to Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Building on the success of last year’s family-friendly pride festival on Vancouver… Continue reading

Scarlett Point lighthouse keeper wins a million bucks playing the lottery

“I usually just get a quick pick, so I didn’t expect to win a big prize”

Most Read