City of White Rock celebrates water treatment plant progress

City of White Rock celebrates water treatment plant progress

Plant to reduce manganese, arsenic in water

The City of White Rock celebrated the construction of the city’s new water treatment plant Thursday after last year’s provincial and federal contribution to the project.

Last year, the city was awarded nearly $12 million in grant money for its $14 million treatment plant project through the Clean Water & Wastewater Fund.

The federal government allocated $7,102,500 towards the project, the province allocated $4,687,650 and the city contributed $2,414,850.

White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin, members of council, South Surrey-White Rock MP Gordie Hogg and Surrey-Guildford MLA Garry Begg met at the treatment plant Thursday, located adjacent to Goggs Avenue behind the Royce condominium development.

According to a city news release issued the day of the event, the city confirmed it had naturally occurring arsenic and manganese in its water after it acquired the water utility from Epcor in October 2015.

The release says that the maximum allowable concentration (MAC) levels of “these naturally occurring elements were {and still are} within Health Canada’s Guidelines for Canada Drinking Water.”

Health Canada’s maximum acceptable concentration of arsenic is 0.010 mg/l.

According to the city’s metal testing results, arsenic in city drinking water has exceeded 0.0100 mg/l on April 16, 2016 (0.0106); May 2, 2016 (0.0108); May 3, 2016 (0.0107); and June 30, 2016 (0.0107 and 0.0101).

Asked for clarification about the recorded numbers higher that 0.010 mg/l, city communications manager Farnaz Farrokhi noted that arsenic has not exceeded the MAC since 2016.

“The good news is that today’s data is much different than 2016’s in that the City has not exceeded the naturally occurring arsenic levels in 2017 or this year,” Farrokhi emailed to Peace Arch News.

A Health Canada maximum allowable concentrate for manganese in drinking water has not been set, however, the city news release states that “it is believed that Health Canada is considering a MAC level of 100 micrograms per litre (0.1 mg/l).”

According to city metal test results, manganese has tested at least 0.1 mg/l at least 160 times since 2015.

“Currently, there is no MAC for Manganese, only an Aesthetic Objective {AO}, so the exceedance that you see is of the Aesthetic Objective only. The new Water Treatment Plant will reduce the Manganese level to lower than the proposed AO of 20µg/L which is a significant reduction in manganese concentration,” Farrokhi wrote.

The news release states that once the treatment plant is operational, the naturally occurring arsenic levels will be less than two micrograms per litre and manganese levels will be less than five micrograms per litre.

According to the metal testing results for 2018, a residential test showed a presence of lead more than double the city’s guideline limit of 0.01 on Sept. 5.

Farrokhi said that as soon as the city saw the lead results, “We arranged for retesting at multiple sites in the house and at the property line. The retests were all well within the MAC for lead and metals.”

She said that although the city cannot be certain, the lead contamination may have been caused by a faulty mixing valve in the test tap that allowed water from the hot water tank into the sample.

“Our water test results throughout the City distribution system, as shown in the Annual Water Reports and in our regular water testing, do not show incidents of elevated lead levels,” Farrokhi wrote.

The city, and Fraser Health, has maintained that the water is safe to drink.