Health officials are urging Interior communities — like Greater Vernon — to move forward with system improvements, to make drinking water safer.
That’s one of the recommendations from a new report on water systems by Interior Health.
Medical Health Officer Dr. Trevor Corneil says water suppliers tend to over-rely on advisories or notices for water health concerns, which he says makes people forget there’s still a risk.
“They tend to forget individuals who are at highest risk, whether its children, pregnant women, the elderly, or others with immune disorders, actually do have to boil their water and can’t drink the water coming out of the tap,” says Corneil.
He says the notices and advisories also give water suppliers a reason to not improve their infrastructure.
“A city does have to invest. A city has to support its infrastructure. And this is where provincial and federal grants come in. They match, and can cover significant portions of those costs,” Corneil tells Kiss FM.
Interior Health has been urging local politicians to add more filtration to the Duteau and Kal Lake systems, each with multi million dollar price tags.
Corneil says the report should serve as a reset button on drinking water.
“This is really an opportunity for Vernon specifically to reset that button and to look at the data in a new way, and to work with Interior Health on improvements. I think Vernon is a great example of a city that has struggled with water. We know they have a high frequency of water advisories.”
Among the report’s recommendations is a more collaborative engagement process with water operators and First Nations communities, to ensure sustainable improvements are made and provincial water treatment objectives are achieved by 2025.
“This could include upgrades to water treatment facilities, improved source protection, and the development of response plans to help protect public health during unexpected situations,” adds Corneil.