Water Treatment on Bowen Island
Q: Will development at the Cape increase the need for water treatment elsewhere on the island?
No, the Cape is 100% independent from the municipal water supply. Each lot has its own, individual subterranean well, already in place. Each well is certified in terms of quality and when the property owner builds the home, their architect and contractor will use the comprehensive water well report for reference. Novatec Consultant’s comprehensive and individualized water analysis report for each property states that point-of-entry household treatment units are commercially available and will provide suitable treatment. The Cape has more than enough water and has received reports indicating that it is on a unique, confined aquifer, completely distinct from the rest of the island and therefore not affecting water supply elsewhere.
About half of the homes on Bowen Island are connected to the municipal water system. The rest use private communal water systems or wells. No matter what type of supply, all water systems are subject to the Canadian Drinking Water Quality (CDWA) guidelines, as well as the Drinking Water Protection Act and other requirements by the Ministry of Health.
Every source of drinking water piped into people’s home needs some sort of treatment – whether it’s as simple as a saline filter or a complex journey through treatment plants. Water is collected from rainfall, snowmelt, creeks and streams in watersheds, and flows to homes through networks of reservoirs, pumping stations and water mains.
Water is tested all along its route and samples are given to water treatment specialists to ensure they match guidelines for drinking water in Canada, referred to as Canadian Drinking Water Quality (CDWQ). When untreated water does not meet these guidelines, commercial systems needed to treat the water must be put in place.
Common problems associated with ground water include:
• Parasites, micro-organisms and pathogens, such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium; bacteria, such as E. coli and coliform. Some of these bacteria can be deposited in water sources by animals. In the summer, beaches often have restrictions on swimming due to bacteria being in the water. Disinfection kills bacteria and can come in the form of ozone, ultraviolet or chlorine disinfection.
• Dissolved particles such as ammonia, sulfates and nitrates. There are a variety of methods to remove microscopic ions that include ultrafiltration, ion exchange membranes and lime treatment.
• Cloudiness of water, referred to as “turbidity” is when small particles of sediment or organic material ends up in reservoirs. This is usually after heavy rainfall but can be due to changes in an operating system, construction or changes in water flows sometimes due to hot weather or fires. This is monitored at the source of the water as well as in laboratories. Besides causing water to look grey, turbidity can interfere with water disinfection. In such cases, it is common to have boil-water warnings until the turbidity has subsided.
> Water treatment fast facts
• Natural well water can have more than 30 dissolved metals in it, such as arsenic and lead, at minute levels.
• Water taken from bedrock fractures can be substantially different in characteristics from that found in surface water, so both have to be tested and treated.
• Though ozone and UV are good disinfectants in primary treatment areas, these break down as the water goes through pumping and piping systems. That means more harmful bacteria can grow. So a second disinfection – using chlorine – is done to prevent bacteria growth.
• Water also has to be treated after it leaves a residence because marine life can be affected by chemicals like as chlorine used to disinfect drinking water.
• Bowen Island Municipality operates seven water systems on the island, serving approximately 1,000 connections. They include: King Edward, Blue Water Park, Bowen Bay, Cove Bay, Eagle Cliff, Hood Point and Tunstall Bay water systems.