British Columbia

Flooding raises water quality concerns in B.C. Interior

Users of several water systems in the Kelowna, Vernon and Grindrod areas are advised to use caution as flooding has lowered water quality. Caution is urged for private well users too.

Water turbidity and flood threats remain high in parts of B.C. Interior

A flooded home near Vernon Creek. Users of several municipal water systems in the Interior, along with private well water users, are advised to take precautions as flooding may have affected their water quality. (Christer Waara/CBC)

Authorities throughout B.C.'s Interior have issued water quality advisories as flood threats still remain and water turbidity remains high.

They say caution should be exercised with tap water that is used for drinking, washing fruits and vegetables, making beverages or ice, or for brushing teeth.

The Greater Vernon Water system, which is supplied by Duteau Creek and Kalamalka Lake, has been notified that its water is classified as "poor," meaning all users should boil water used for the above purposes for one minute.

Users of the City of Kelowna Water Utility, Grindrod Water Utility, and Greater Vernon Water users supplied by the Delcliffe Water Utility are advised their water is considered "fair," which means children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems should boil water for one minute.

Authorities say filtered or distilled water could be used as an alternative to tap water for those concerned about water quality.

Private wells need caution too

Caro Analytical Services, a private laboratory company that tests for water quality, says users of private wells should be careful during flooding.

They say between 25 and 30 per cent of households may rely on groundwater for domestic use in the region, and health authorities do not monitor the quality of their water.

"In these circumstances, your water, if it's impacted by surface water and it goes into groundwater, that can be a significant concern and a health risk," Caro vice-president Patrick Novak said.

"When other [authorities] are issuing boil water advisories and these things are happening around you, it's likely affecting you as well.

"You can always be more secure by boiling water if you're concerned in any way. … if it's very turbid or there's some signs it doesn't look good, yeah, definitely."

Caro said the lab company at the Kelowna location will provide free water testing to flood-affected residents until the end of May