Questions and Answers

Nanoose Bay Water

Fairwinds Community Association
Water Quality Meeting
August 26, 2009

Questions and Answers

Water Quality and Health Protection
  1. How do the Vancouver Island Health Authority and the Regional District of Nanaimo work together to provide safe drinking water?
    VIHA is responsible for implementation of the Drinking Water Protection Act and Drinking Water Protection Regulation and ensuring water suppliers are in compliance. RDN is a water supplier under the DWPA/R and must comply with the legislation.

    This is done in a cooperative, consultative manner although VIHA does have the option of applying progressive enforcement including written warnings, tickets, orders, and/or injunctions if the system remains non-compliant.

  2. What are the VIHA requirements for on-going water quality testing and source approvals?
    Bacteriological monitoring

    Section 11 of the DWPA requires the water supplier to monitor the water for the "parameters, and at the frequency, established by the regulations and its operating permit, and have the sampling required for that monitoring carried out in accordance with the regulations and directions of the Drinking Water Officer".

    Under Section 8 of the DWPR, the water supplier must transport the samples to the lab and monitor for total coliform bacteria and E. coli at the frequencies of Schedule B or as established by the DWO. The lab must be approved by the Public Health Officer.

    Section 9 of the DWPR and Section 12 of the DWPA requires immediate reporting by the lab to the DWO, water supplier and Medical Health Officer if the water quality standards in Schedule A are not met for E. coli.

    Source Approvals

    The water supply system owner submits water quality data, details about the source location and a site plan to the district Environmental Health Officer. The district EHO reviews the data and conducts a sanitary survey in consultation with the Public Health Engineer and/or Land Use/ Water Consultant as required. The EHO or PHE makes recommendations to the Environmental Health supervisor who grants or denies source approval.

  3. What chemical criteria does VIHA use when considering new community water sources for approval?
    The health based guidelines have Maximum Allowable Concentrations in the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality that must be met or appropriate treatment provided to bring levels below the MAC. Aesthetic objectives are those that determine whether consumers consider water drinkable, rather than a health concern. When an aesthetic objective is exceeded, it is identified and highlighted in the source approval document but would not result in rejection of the well. The GCDWQ are guidelines, not regulations that water suppliers must comply with.
  4. There are 5 test sites in the Fairwinds neighbourhood. Should there be more?
    The DWPR requires a minimum of 4 samples monthly for a water system with a population of 5000 or less. Locations are chosen to be representative of points throughout the distribution systems and might include different pressure zones, dead ends or areas at the farthest end of the distribution system. Using the same sites over time builds a history of the site and allows consistency for interpretation of results. If the results vary from historical, this can be used to help determine cause and identify actions for remediation.
  5. Why are these sites only tested monthly, should they be tested more often?
    There are 5 sites in the Fairwinds neighbourhood established with VIHA for water quality testing purposes. Each site is visited every 5 weeks, so one site a week is tested in the system. Those test bottles are sent to an independent laboratory, chosen by VIHA for analysis. If there are any issues with the sample we are contacted by VIHA. Testing usually takes 72 hours.
  6. Why does the RDN do additional testing every week?
    In addition to the required VIHA testing, the RDN carries out independent testing at the same time for bacteria, total dissolved solids, conductivity, salinity, temperature and pH. This is done both to aquire a broader range of data on each site and to provide a quicker turnaround on bacteriological readings. These readings produce results in 24 hours giving a full two days prior indication of any possible health issues. This is not required by VIHA but done in addition to their requirements.
  7. Why are the test results taking so long to get onto the web site?
    RDN Staff attempt to have test results up on the web site within a month of receiving the data. Staff were unable to post results for many of our water service areas this spring due to staff work loads. Results are now posted and up to date. All testing is available at any time simply by contacting RDN staff, even if the information has not yet been posted.
  8. How are the test results used?
    VIHA is notified immediately if any of the samples exceed the prescribed limits for E. coli. Results are also monitored for total coliform above the level in Schedule B. In either situation, the RDN and VIHA discuss reasons for the presence of the indicator organisms and remedial actions to be taken. After the action has been taken, the sites are re sampled to ensure the problem has been solved.
  9. In 2003 the Medical Health Officer stated there are no health concerns with respect to iron and manganese. Is this still valid?
    Yes, although the World Health Organization guideline for manganese is no longer draft. The WHO guideline looks at long term exposure rather than short term exposure and the average concentration would be more relevant that instances at the high end of the range. Although manganese levels at Fairwinds do exceed the guideline of 0.4 mg/l at times, from data in the months where multiple samples where taken, the average concentration is about 0.2 mg/l. The guidance value is not a threshold for health effects - where ill health effects begin is not known, but they do not occur at 0.18 mg/kg/day. This guidance value also includes a safety factor of 3, making it even more conservative.
Water Quality Improvements
  1. What has been done or is underway to work towards reducing iron and manganese in the water?
    The following will be discussed in more detail in the presentation;
    • Third Party Operational review.
    • Reduced use of wells #2 and #3.
    • Well sequencing.
    • Craig Bay Pump Station upgrade.
    • Temporary Permit for the Claudet Well.
    • Temporary treatment facility.
    • Full treatment of the supply wells.
  2. What is planned as a permanent solution?
    The permanent solution to the iron and manganese problem is to treat the problem at the source. The report (draft) from Worley Parsons Engineering has reviewed a number of approaches and developed a preliminary cost estimate.
  3. What is the estimated cost of the permanent solution?
    The estimated cost, while still draft, comes to $1.1 million. With contingencies, off site works and associated costs the final price may be approximately $1.5 million.
  4. Who will be asked to pay for the permanent solution?
    All residents within the Nanoose Bay Peninsula Water Service Area may be asked to contribute to the costs of this project. Staff are currently evaluating the apportionment of costs which may result in different costs for different areas of the service area. The wells requiring treatment form part of the Nanoose Bay Peninsula Water Service Area well inventory and are used for overall supply. Reliance on these wells across the entire service area will increase over time.
  5. When will that permanent solution be in place?
    Prior to beginning construction we will require Board approval for the approach, voter assent for the borrowing bylaw and assent results. Once those are in place final design would be completed and construction would begin. We would bring the borrowing bylaw to the public for assent in April of 2010, with construction completion estimated for Spring of 2011.
Future Residential Development
  1. What is required of a developer when they bring on new water supplies for their projects?
    In the case of straightforward developments the developer is required to bring on wells of at least 30 imperial gallons per minute as a minimum and must provide at least 0.43 imperial gallons per minute per proposed unit. The developer must do all of the well development, apply for permits, construct the well head works etc. and turn over the facility to the RDN on completion. These requirements are currently under review and may result in more stringent requirements in the future.
  2. Are developers who bring on new wells responsible for treatment to meet aesthetic limits?
    To date developers have not been required to meet aesthetic limits. As noted above the requirements are under review.