Top and above right, photos brought to Fraser Health Wednesday by White Rock resident Garry Wolgemuth (holding a bag of sediment) that he says show the impact of the city’s water. (Contributed photos/Ashley Wadwhani photo)

VIDEO: White Rock residents urge Fraser Health for answers on dirty water

Fraser Health says the – sometimes dark brown – water meets Health Canada standards

A Fraser Health public board meeting ended on a murky note Wednesday, after several White Rock residents pressed the health authority for answers on the dirty water coming through local taps on a regular basis.

“You have the power to amend White Rock’s operating permit so that it contains a requirement of regular public forums that would allow the public to ask questions and be informed about the White Rock utility,” one resident said.

The city, which is currently dealing with an issue of chloramination of city water in combination with a presence of naturally occurring manganese and arsenic – going back 100 years, according to city utility manager Saad Jasim – that seems to be resulting in a number of cases of severe water discoloration.

To begin treating the water, pipes are having to be flushed in order to remove some of the built-up sediment, while the city begins building a new water treatment plant, scheduled to be completed in 2019.

“This is the second round of flushing we’re doing to the pipes in six months because we need to clean the pipes out as much as possible,” Jasim said at the meeting.

According to reports from the city, the water quality is meeting Health Canada standards, Dr. Victoria Lee, Fraser Health’s chief medical health officer, told the board.

“In terms of the testing that’s been done, all the test results we’ve received are meeting the guidelines from Health Canada,” she said, confirming no one has reported any sickness due to the discoloured water.

Lee said Fraser Health has been working with the city to ensure adequate notification processes are in place leading up to the flushing.

As for the requests to impose mandatory community forums, Fraser Health’s CEO Michael Marchbank said it was the first of its kind to be requested to the board.

“Given the nature of the request, I’d probably need to seek legal advice before being able to answer,” he said.

The discoloration of water has been disconcerting to residents, who told the board that they’re seeking answers and not receiving much information from the city.

“I think we need some sort of commission to independently study this, because I don’t think you are going to get the information you need from the city,” resident Garry Wolgemuth said, holding a bag of sediment that he said was scraped from a household pipe.

“I think you’re getting a lot of figures and tests taken right after it’s treated, but I don’t see any test at the source of our drinking water.”

Wolgemuth told Peace Arch News the next day that a water meter in a picture he showed the Fraser Health board – thoroughly clogged with an almost black concentration of material – had been removed by a city crew from his apartment building on Vidal Street on June 9.

“They were responding to complaints of residents about the deposits in the water and also very poor water pressure in the building,” he said, adding that the crew had replaced the meter.

But pipes connecting to the meter in the 35-year-old building also show a similar level of sediment, he said.

“The samples I showed at the Fraser Health meeting came from our side of the flanges,” he said. “I was shocked when I saw that meter – I’m sure other buildings in the area are the same way and there are a lot of residences in the city that are much older.”

Mayor Wayne Baldwin told PAN Monday that the current problems with city water would have occurred regardless of whether the city had acquired the utility from previous owners Epcor in 2015 for a yet-to-be-disclosed price.

The purchase meant the city could access the federal-provincial funds that are helping to pay for the new arsenic and manganese treatment plant, which would not have been available to Epcor, he said.

“Unfortunately, we inherited something that was pretty old,” he said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”

Baldwin could not be reached for further comment regarding Wednesday’s presentations to the Fraser Health board.


Just Posted

White Rock taxpayers on the hook for Memorial Park upgrades delay

Mayor says the province is ‘waffling’ on granting permission to go ahead with project

Coffee with a Cop held in South Surrey

‘Sensational media,’ hazards, and inner-workings of RCMP discussed

Surrey School District refuses to rent Bell Centre for Parents United Canada rally

Group is seeking court injunction to stop an LGBTQ program in public schools

Off-duty officer, store staff struck in South Surrey altercation

One arrested following suspected theft in Grandview Corners

EXCLUSIVE: Surrey collecting fees on more than 2,400 illegal suites, documents reveal

That works out to more than $1 million in fees collected annually

SLIDESHOW: PAN’s week in pictures

Highlights from this week’s Peace Arch News

Holy Heritage Rail Batman: Superheros come to Cloverdale historic train

The Fraser Valley Heritage Rail is hosting its third annual Halloween rail adventure Oct 28, 29

Surrey Eagles prep for road tilt with first-place Vernon Vipers

After a Friday night game against Wenatchee, the Birds take aim at BCHL leaders Saturday

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

Students in health-related studies to take course, workshop to help better serve Aboriginal people

Dorsett has 2 goals, assist in Canucks’ 4-2 win over Sabres

‘It was a real good hockey game by our group,’ Canucks coach Travis Green said.

Berry disappointed: Bear tries to eat fake fruit on woman’s door wreath

A Winnipeg woman has taken her berry-embellished wreath down, after a hungry bear visited her porch

Man in custody linked police search near Salmon Arm

Police have not connected arrest to search at Salmon River Road property

‘Hearties’ descend on Langley

Fans of TV show ‘When Calls the Heart’ have gathered in Langley for the Hearties Family Reunion

Most Read