White Rock water safe to drink despite arsenic concerns, says Fraser Health

Fraser Health says drinking water in White Rock, B.C. is safe, despite concern from some residents about arsenic levels in the city's wells.

B.C. city draws drinking water from its own wells instead of Metro Vancouver's water supply

Some White Rock residents are concerned about arsenic levels in their drinking water, but Fraser Health says the water is safe to drink. (Getty Images/Flickr RF)

Fraser Health says drinking water in White Rock, B.C. is safe, despite concern from some residents about arsenic levels.

Unlike other municipalities in the region, White Rock draws its drinking water from seven wells, rather than Metro Vancouver's water supply.

Arsenic levels measured from three of those wells were just under the limit set by Health Canada for drinking water, according to Dr. Michelle Murti, Fraser Health's medical health officer for South Surrey and White Rock.

White Rock's water is safe to drink, she confirmed.

"Our role is to make sure the water that people are drinking is potable and safe to drink. We would not be allowing people to be drinking that water if that wasn't the case."

The Health Canada threshold for arsenic levels in drinking water is 0.01 milligrams per litre or lower, according to Murti.

People who regularly drink water with higher levels of arsenic are at greater risk for lung, bladder, and liver cancers, said Murti.

Concerned residents

But some residents are not convinced.

White Rock resident David Riley says arsenic levels have been "trending up" and that some wells have recorded arsenic levels higher than the Health Canada standard in the past.

He wants the city to share its plans to address arsenic levels with residents.

"What we would like to see is a much more comprehensive process in terms of discussing how it is going to be addressed, so that citizens can get more involved," said Riley, who is the co-chair of White Rock Safe Water Alliance.

Upcoming improvements

Murti says Fraser Health is working with White Rock to install improvements to the water system.

A secondary disinfection system, which would kill E. coli and other microbial contamination, is scheduled for completion at the end of June 2016, she said.

Although the amount of arsenic in White Rock's water is within acceptable levels, Health Canada encourages authorities to make arsenic levels as low as possible, said Murti.

She says White Rock would need better filtration systems at each of its seven wells if it wanted to lower arsenic levels.


To listen to the full interview with Dr. Michelle Murti, click the link labelled: White Rock water safe to drink says Fraser Health.

To listen to the full interview with David Riley, click the link labelled: White Rock residents concerned about arsenic levels in drinking water.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.