City moves forward with secondary treatment

As part of its acquisition and operation of the water utility, the City is under mandate by the Fraser Health Authority to implement a secondary form of water disinfection. The work is necessary to treat the water supply and upgrade critical infrastructure in the White Rock system, and is a part of the City’s commitment to implement the Total Water Quality Management (TWQM) Project.

The TWQM Project will add disinfection, infrastructure renewal, storage capacity upgrades and a  modest level of system expansion for future growth. The City must treat the drinking water with an acceptable secondary treatment by June 2016 as a condition of their operating permit from Fraser Health.

The City will continue to provide high quality drinking water that meets both the Fraser Health Authority’s water quality requirements and Health Canada’s Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.

The City considered a variety of treatment options that would produce safe secondary disinfection. The most commonly used and effective secondary disinfectants solutions for urban water system disinfection are chlorine and chloramines. EPCOR, the prior owner and operator of the utility, proposed chloramine as their recommended disinfection after lab testing with an independent consultant.

Not all disinfectants are capable of maintaining a residual (e.g. ozone or chlorine dioxide) disinfectant capability, or, as in the case of ultra violet light, do not produce a residual layer of protection from contamination in the distribution system.

The City conducted a public forum in October 2015 to introduce options. The City received 19 comment forms: eight in favour of chlorine, six in favour of chloramine, four in favour of no treatment, and one with no statement. The City confirmed that the Fraser Health Authority has set no specific preference for secondary disinfection. 

The City will move forward with the secondary treatment of chloramination. The choice to use chloramine as a method of secondary disinfection addresses and minimizes the effects of manganese in the City’s water. While primarily meeting the requirement to provide a safe secondary disinfection option into the water supply, the use of chloramine should reduce some complaints by the public, which include staining of laundry and plumbing fixtures.

The City recognizes that there are potential impacts to the environment with the use of chloramine. Water Utility staff will carry chemical pucks and bags to neutralize the chloramine in the unlikely event of a water main break. This type of response is common, and is required for any treated water that is released to the environment.

The disinfection of water at the Oxford Street Site could begin as early as January 2016.

More details on the purchase of the water utility can be found on the City’s project page.