March 9, 2013
Time to Wake Up and Smell the Water
means E. coli-free water
Released by Dr. Paul Van Buynder, Chief Medical
Health Officer and Vice-President Public Health, Fraser Health/Voice file
Dr. Paul Buynder explains FHA's position
on why Chilliwack water needs chlorination at a public forum last
Chief Medical Health Officer for Fraser Health, I have a legislated
responsibility to uphold the B.C. Drinking Water Protection Act and ensure
that the residents of Fraser Health have access to safe drinking water.
Over the years, Chilliwack's water system has been compromised on many
occasions resulting in fecal coliform and E. coli bacteria entering the
distribution system. After a review of the relevant data and conversations
with Public Works staff at the City of Chilliwack, it is my assessment that
ongoing secondary disinfection of the water supply system with chlorine or
an equivalent compound is necessary to ensure a safe drinking water supply.
I want to thank City of Chilliwack staff for their thorough response to last
week's positive E. coli test result. Their efforts to provide rapid
emergency chlorination, shut down valves to contain the contamination, and
work long hours to provide Fraser Health with a detailed report of the
possible cause of contamination was exemplary.
The information provided confirmed vulnerabilities in the system including a
number of residences with dual systems and without backflow prevention.
These potential pathways by which pathogens can enter the distribution
system was the reason for the initial concerns of Fraser Health.
In order to ensure the highest degree of confidence in the safety of the
drinking water system, Fraser Health has issued formal notice under the
Drinking water Protection Act that, effective immediately, the City of
Chilliwack is required to provide secondary disinfection to its water supply
in order to maintain a disinfection residual in the water distribution
I recognize that the outcome is not what many of Chilliwack residents had
hoped for, but given the system vulnerabilities, no other option meets
required drinking water safety standards.
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