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

‘Absolutely devastating’: Laptops, gift cards stolen from Surrey Christmas Bureau

Executive director says it’s a ‘huge blow’ and the charity was ‘already struggling for teen gifts’

Two-vehicle Surrey crash snarls traffic at 152nd, Highway 10

Surrey RCMP Constable Richard Wright said police were on scene when it happened

Surrey RCMP looking for missing 13-year-old Indigenous boy

Police say Stephen Donnelly was last seen around 3 p.m. on Dec. 10 in the 10400-block of 132nd Street

Surrey RCMP searching for missing 50-year-old man last seen in Whalley

Police say Sasha Bankovic went missing at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 10 in the 13700-block of 96th Avenue

Closure of Surrey recovery homes ‘bittersweet,’ says grieving mom

South Surrey mother says she plans to keep a close eye on how facilities are monitored

‘A loud sonic boom’: Gabriola Island residents recount fatal plane crash

Area where the plane went down is primarily a residential neighbourhood, RCMP say

Thunberg ‘a bit surprised’ to be Time ‘Person of the Year’

‘I could never have imagined anything like that happening,’ she said in a phone interview

B.C. patients wait 41% longer than national average to see a walk-in doctor: Medimap

The longest wait time was found in Sidney, B.C., where patients waited an average of 180 minutes

10,000 affordable rentals a year needed to tackle Metro Vancouver housing crisis: report

The report focused on building government-funded housing, rather than relying on the private sector

Toronto Raptors, Don Cherry top the list of Canadians’ Google searches in 2019

‘Champions’ was the theme of the last year, Google said

Tavares scores twice as Maple Leafs earn 4-1 win over Canucks

Vancouver sees two-game win streak snapped

UPDATED: No survivors in Gabriola Island plane crash: RCMP

Coroner confirms multiple fatalities after small plane goes down Tuesday night near Nanaimo

VIDEO: Harbour Air makes history with first electric aircraft test flight

Successful flight marks first of its kind in the world

The Grinch who Stole a Hedge: Security camera captures Chilliwack tree theft

RCMP arrives as person calmly walks away with tree in downtown area

Most Read