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.

Just Posted

Grey, damp, warm week ahead in Okanagan, Shuswap, Columbia

Environment Canada calling for clouds and showers, and warm temperatures, throughout the area

‘If we do nothing, the herd will certainly be extirpated’: Caribou maternity pen proposed in Nakusp

The Arrow Lakes Caribou Society is waiting for a response from the province

Revelstoke roads and weather: avalanche control planned today

Highway 1 west of Revelstoke will be closed intermittently for avalanche control

Advance voting in 2019 federal election begins

Voting at advance polling stations has become a popular choice in Canada over the years

Revelstoke’s federal candidates talk Temporary Foreign Workers

Businesses in Revelstoke regularly struggle with finding and retaining staff members. One… Continue reading

VIDEO: Langley woman’s security camera records its own theft

Langley family discovers early morning grab was recorded

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Boats once plied Okanagan Lake

Lake was used as transportation corridor connecting communities in the valley

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Map on Elections Canada website sends Nanaimo-Ladysmith voters to landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

BC Children’s Hospital launches 2 new virtual care sites bringing total to 19 across province

Provincial initiative allows pediatric patients to see health specialists through video

Most Read