Comox Valley Water Watch Coalition
Protecting our Water
C.V. Drinking Water Reference Guide- NEW EDITION now available
2011 CV Drinking Water Reference Guide- by Sonya Marie Jenssen - Abstract
Understanding the source to tap routing of one’s drinking water is a complex task. This guide intends to simplify a multi-faceted process without losing the complexity involved in the protection, treatment, maintenance, and monitoring of drinking water supply systems.
The management of a drinking water system touches all government jurisdictions, the municipal, provincial, and federal each with some level of responsibility for water quality and quantity. An extensive legislative framework and subsequent practice is in place to ensure that Canadians receive safe drinking water; even so, concerns continue to arise over the governance and management of water quantity and quality. Specific areas of concerns include climate change impacts, the use of chlorine, water quality on First Nation’s reserves, emergency preparedness, and water conservation measures.
This guide is designed to move readers through the source to tap path that drinking water travels everyday to households. Examples will be taken from Comox Valley water suppliers to highlight the working nature of legislation pertaining to water sources, along with the treatment, maintenance, and monitoring of our drinking water.
Ultimately, this guide hopes to inspire and inform the reader about the complexities involved in providing safe, clean drinking water to your taps at home and work. The next time you drink a glass of water take a moment to reflect upon the matrix of ecological and human ingenuity necessary in ensuring that each and every glass of water does indeed sustain your life.
“Water is life’s mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water”.
~Albert Szent-Gyorgyi 1893-1986, Hungarian Biochemist, 1937 Nobel Prize for Medicine
Sonya Marie Jenssen, M.A.
Water Policy and Research Specialist
Your Water Your Future
Coal Mine Coming - Open house Wed Oct 28
In brief, the mine would be an underground mine starting above Fanny Bay and reaching to Baynes sound , producing about 2 million tons a year of coal with 700,000 tons of waste.
We must know how much water the mine will use, where they will ge the water, what they will be doing with the polluted water from washing the coal, and what the mine's impact on water, wells and aquifers will be.
The mine is having their 1st public open house the Weds. October 28th at the Fanny Bay Hall from 4p.m.- 9p.m.
They will be asking what they need to cover in their environmental assessment. If you put your questionon the record, they will have to answer them.
Coal's responsibility for greenhouse gases and global warming are not part of the environmental asssessment , but that doesn't mean those questions should not be raised.
BC has a carbon tax on heating fuel for your house, but we sell lots of coal to add to global warming.
This has impacts for the whole of Vancouver Island not just Fanny Bay !
Please attend this open house and show the coompany you care !
4-9 p.m. Weds. Oct. 28
Fanny Bay Hall
For more information on this project go to
Standing room only in Fanny Bay
CVRD Water Open House June 11, 2009
C.V. Water Watch is asking you to attend:
The Comox Valley Regional District's WATER FORUM
Thursday, June 11th from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Florence Filberg Center
– City of Courtenay, City of Comox, CVRD, B.C. Hydro, Ministry of Environment, VIHA, DFO, Timberwest, Comox Valley Water Watch, Courtenay Fish & Game Club, School District 71 students.
Find out about:
Regional Water Strategy
Water Wise Program
Quality and treatment of water
Drinking Water Protection
Come out and get involved. Your Drinking Water needs your interest and participation.
Ask questions about
Can your drinking water sources meet the needs of future growth?
What is the 4-3-2-1?
Does your Water source meet the new 4-3-2-1 regulations set out by VIHA?
Are smaller communities going to have to meet the new 4-3-2-1 now, then tie into a regional water system and pay again later?
When do our rural communities tie into a Regional Water source?
What is the Regional Water source? Is it protected?
Are any of our drinking watersheds protected?
Are the Timber companies planning to subdivide land around Comox Lake ?, the drinking water suply for 38,000 people.
Is there really a private power operation application on the Cruickshank River, the largest tributary to Comox Lake? How will this affect the water supply? Are there going to be special regulations for IPP’s (Independent Power Projects) on watercourses which feed drinking water supplies?
What is a deep water intake? Why are we waiting to install one till 2019?
What type of pipes deliver water to your home? Are they asbestos?
Is there money being allocated for replacing these old and hazardous pipes all over the Region?
Are Water meters the answer? When will they be installed? How much will this cost?
If you are on a limited income, how will you be able to afford all of the new infrastructure costs coming your way? Who will pay these high prices for infrastructure needs?
Do you approve when local governments grant permission for a development, then indemnify themselves in the event the community runs out of Water?
Do you think proven water supplies need to be in place before developments are permitted?
What kinds of bylaws are in place to support water conservation? What more do we need to do to support local governments to enact bylaws to better conserve water?
Who do you call, when you see exsessive sprinkling by one of the municipalities on public land ?
Why can’t I re-use my grey water, or can I?
Can I treat my rain water system and use it for drinking water?
What are the water needs of our growing agricultural community to be able to produce our food supply?
We hope that you have read this list of questions and it has prompted you to ask even more. Ask how you can participate in the Regional Water plan. How can you REALLY get the citizens voice out there and heard when it comes to your Drinking Water ?
Hope to see you there. We will be bringing our 3D-watershed map!
Comox Valley Water Watch Steering Committee
C.V. Water Watch - speaker Series
Manager of Nanaimo Regional Water Services to Speak on Cooperative Approach to Drinking Water and Watershed Protection.
On Thursday, April 2, Mike Donnelly, Manager of Water Services for the Regional Water District of Nanaimo, will speak on a new program in his district called Action for Water that is providing improved management and increased security of ground and surface water resources. The talk will be given at the Florence Filberg Seniors Lounge beginning at 7 pm. Hosted by the Comox Valley Water Watch Coalition, the event is open to the public and admission is by donation.
The Action for Water program was created over the last year to help address issues associated with impacts on the region’s water resources and to improve our approach to land use that would then assist in reducing further degradation," he says. "This was done with the help and guidance of a committee representing a variety of region-wide interests including Electoral Areas residents BC Ministry of Environment, the Vancouver Island Health Authority, the Islands Trust, local well drillers, forestry interests and conservation groups
"Population growth in the (Nanaimo) region along with existing land uses continues to put pressure on ground and surface water sources which impacts our watersheds and drinking water. These impacts have already led to negative changes in many watersheds and reduced and or contaminated ground water sources in a number of areas throughout the region," notes Donnelly
According to Kathleen Kinasewich, who heads the Comox Valley Water Watch Coalition, "It’s important to hear success stories from other regional districts, especially here on the Island. I think folks here will be greatly encouraged to learn more about Nanaimo’s program, and how residents, government and other interested parties came together to take action on water protection."
Donnelly currently oversees the operation of seven water systems and six sanitary sewer collection systems in his district ranging from small to medium sized operations with a total service population of approximately 15,000 people. In addition to the service provision aspect of Donnelly’s work, he is now responsible for the implementation of the Regional District’s newly established Drinking Water Protection service.
In addition to his 15 years of involvement in the management of public water systems, Donnelly has also managed the Region’s Liquid Waste and Solid Waste functions and was manager of Regional Transit for a number of years. He holds a Technical Diploma from the British Columbia Institute of Technology.
For more information on CVWWC and the presentation, contact:email@example.com
or call 250-335-0747. Kathleen Kinasewich
Drinking Water Protection Plan
Drinking Water Protection Plan Needed
Novemeber 18, 2008
The Water Watch Coalition is asking you to support the development of a Drinking Water Protection Plan. If you value safe drinking water in the Comox Valley your letters of support are needed right now!
The Provincial Health officer has recommended the development of a Drinking Water Protection Plan (DWPP) for the Comox Valley Regional Water Supply. Under BC's Drinking Water Protection Act the plan would become an "Order" once it was approved by Mary Polak, Minster of Healthy Living and Sport (HL&S). A Drinking Water Protection Plan is simply an order from the Ministry of HL&S for our area to start working together on a plan to better protect our drinking water supply. This DWPP would enable our region to start working together in a transparent and inclusive planning process and would allow all stakeholders and consumers of drinking water in the Comox Valley to contribute to the plan. –i.e. we will make the plan.
A key advantage to an order for this plan is that once the plan is completed it would go to cabinet and what cabinet approves will become regulation and will then be implemented. Please note that this order would not dictate the contents of the plan, but simply ensure that the plan be completed by the community. Comox Valley Water Watch Coalition is asking citizens to write Minister Polak to say you support the development of a Drinking Water Protection Plan for the Comox Valley Regional Water Supply. Tell her the safety and security of our water supply is extremely important and that the Drinking Water Protection Plan will help achieve those objectives.
This is an urgent request to act right NOW. One paragraph saying you support the DWPP is all that is needed. Even if your house is not served by the Regional Water Supply you are affected when you drink water in town, at a friend’s, or at a public event.
Hard copy letters are much more effective but you can also contact the Minister by phone, fax or email.
Send your letter to:
Minister Mary Polak
PO Box 9067
STN PROV GOVT
Victoria BCV8W 9E9
Phone: 250 387-3504
Fax: 250 387-3420
E-mail the Minister at:HLS.Minister@gov.bc.ca
In addition to writing the Minister please send a copy of your letter to Water Watch Coalition at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Campbell River's tap water places fourth
Friday, April 13, 2007
Author’s Disclosure: This is a summary of the presentation of the risk assessment study of Comox Lake. It is not intended as a complete summary of the study or the meeting itself. It is intended to be an overview of some key components and key risks to the Comox Valley Water System. To access the completed reports, please refer to the Technical Memorandum’s found at http://www.comoxstrathcona.bc.ca/
1.0. Presentation of risk assessment study
The Regional District of Comox Strathcona presented to a roomful of over 200 hundred people the findings of a report produced by engineering firm CH2M Hill that had investigated risks to the Comox Lake drinking watershed. 38,000 residents rely on Comox Lake as their water source.
The primary goal of the Comox Lake watershed risk assessment was to identify the major risks to the Comox Lake water source so that a future program to mitigate these risks could be developed with the major stakeholders in the area. The watershed assessment followed the sections of the Province of British Columbia’s proposed Comprehensive Drinking Water Source to Tap Assessment Guideline that includes the characterization of the water source, an inventory of the potential contaminant sources, a description of the water supply system, and the characterization of the risks posed to the water source.
The methodology used in the study incorporated the following:
Likelihood that the event will occur;
Consequences of the event if the event occurs; and
Vulnerability of the watershed to the event.
Risk to the watershed was measured by two variables of the time it would take to enter the intake pipe and the proximity to the intake pipe, which has been categorized as the time-to-impact barrier. The closer the risk event occurs in time and distance to the intake pipe the less time the regional district has to respond.
Very High Risks include:
Vehicular traffic over the bridge close to the Comox Lake outlet
Transportation on roads adjacent to Puntledge River
Boating on Puntledge River upstream of penstock
Intentional harm to the water source
High risks include:
Logging within 300 metres of the Puntledge River between Comox Lake outlet and penstock intake
Transport on roads 1km of the Puntledge River upstream of the penstock
Wildlife contamination between outlet and penstock (Eastern portion of lake)
Potential aircraft crash in Comox Lake or near Puntledge River
Lakeshore cabins and camping in undesignated areas (Eastern portion of lake)
Boating and fishing (Eastern portion of lake)
The Regional District will be working to address the very high and high risk categories first and as funding permits will move down the list. For a complete guide to all of the identified the risks refer to Technical Memorandum #4 at http://www.comoxstrathcona.bc.ca/
1.1. Role of the Regional District and our water supply
The role of the Regional District is to provide a reliable source of safe, high-quality
drinking water to homes and businesses within some of its member municipalities and
electoral areas. This includes acquiring and maintaining the water supply, treating it to
ensure quality, and delivering it-all at a reasonable cost. Areas serviced include:
Comox Valley Water System: water originates in Comox Lake and is taken from the Puntledge River (delivers water to over 38,000 people);
Black Creek Water System: water originates in the groundwater wells and from the Oyster River (delivers water to 2,600 people & in the summertime up to 6,000)
Oyster Bay - Buttle Lake (Area 'D') Water System: water originates in John Hart Lake (delivers water to 2,700 people)
Denman Island Water System: water is drawn from wells (delivers water to 30 people)
According to Graeme Faris, General Manager of Operational Services with the Regional District, the district has no regulatory authority over water access and use; BC Hydro holds the majority of the water use licenses. The Comox Valley Water System (originating in Comox Lake) serves the largest number of users in the region. This particular watershed is 56,591 hectares and includes Comox Lake, Puntledge River, and Brown’s River. It receives 1,500 – 2,000 millimetres of rain annually. The intake system has three significant points:
Comox Dam, located at the outlet of the 461-km² Comox Lake Watershed into Puntledge River
Puntledge Diversion Dam, the inlet of the penstock is located 3.7 km downstream of the Comox Dam, with an additional 14 km² watershed (total of 475 km²). This is the last open surface water point in the system where the gravity intake from the penstock is used
Puntledge River Pump Station, located 6.6 km downstream of the Puntledge Diversion Dam, at the BC Hydro Power Generating Station, with an additional 115 km² of contributing area that includes the Browns River Watershed (total of 590 km²). Water for the Comox Valley Water Supply System is taken from this location only for a few weeks during the year.
The Regional District takes water for this system out of the Puntledge River downstream of Comox Lake, through a water license agreement with BC Hydro and the government of BC. Water taken from Comox Lake totals a flow rate of 35m³/second (equivalent to filling our aquatic centre pool twice in one minute). This volume is primarily shared amongst three groups: BC Hydro uses 28m³/second; Department of Fisheries and Oceans uses 5.7m³/second; and for drinking water purposes the Regional District uses 0.3m³/second.
Currently, the volume of water used from the Comox Lake watershed is 17,000 m³ in the wintertime, tripling to 55,000 m³ in the summertime. The Comox Valley holds the title of largest water consumer in the province at over 600 litres per capita per day with the national average at 390 litres per capita per day.
The only method of water treatment for the Comox Valley Water System is chlorination.
1.2. Role of Health Authority
While the Regional District is the water purveyor it is the Vancouver Island Health Authority with jurisdiction over water quality under the Drinking Water Protection Act of 2003. According to this act, the health authority officer has the ultimate legal powers to stop actions on or near watersheds should they be deemed as an immediate threat to the safety of our drinking waters.
Responsibilities of Drinking Water Officers include:
The Drinking Water Program is administered locally by Drinking Water Officers, Public Health Engineers and Medical Health Officers, who are responsible for direct service delivery in BC's Health Authorities.
Drinking Water Officers provide surveillance and monitoring of drinking water systems which may affect the public's health. They also administer and enforce the Drinking Water Protection Act, the Drinking Water Protection Regulation and the Health Act and provide interventions to minimize health and safety hazards.
Drinking Water Officers and Public Health Engineers are also the people who should be contacted prior to the creation or alteration of drinking water systems. Drinking water systems require construction permits and operating permits to ensure that water systems are created and maintained to ensure the safety of the drinking water supplied to customers.
1.3. Comox Lake user groups
Comox Lake supplies water to 38,000 residential customers and has sixteen user groups that include some of the following: TimberWest Forest Corporation, Hancock Timber Resource Group, Comox Lake Land Corporation, Comox Timber, Courtenay and District Fish and Game Protective Association, BC Hydro, Crown land, and private land owners. TimberWest Forest Corporation is the largest land shareholder around the lake. All user groups are being asked to draft strategies for mitigating risk to the watershed to submit to the regional district. The regional district will be asking for a commitment but will have no enforcement powers to hold the user groups accountable to their proposed strategies.
1.4. Future goals
This was the second meeting in a three-part series. The next step will be to develop strategies to meet existing demand, to identify growth and water availability for the future development of the area, to look at ways to protect the water source, and to promote water conservation, in part through public awareness raising.
Ministry of Health, http://www.healthservices.gov.bc.ca/protect/dw_index.html
Public Information session, March 26, 2007, Florence Filberg Centre, Courtenay BC, speakers: Graeme Faris and Russ Hostenpiller
Regional District of Comox Strathcona, http://www.comoxstrathcona.bc.ca/