Fraser Health backs Metro water for White Rock

Fraser Health backs Metro water for White Rock

Fraser Health wants White Rock to get its water from Metro Vancouver.

Fraser Health wants White Rock to get its water from Metro Vancouver.

In a letter sent to city manager Dan Bottrill last month, medical health officer Lisa Mu states the health authority “supports the reduction of arsenic in White Rock’s water supply to levels that are as low as reasonably achievable.”

“Accordingly, we are in favour of the connection of the White Rock distribution system to MetroVan water, if this is determined to be technically and financially viable,” Mu writes.

Asked for comment, Epcor spokesman Tim Le Riche said by email Monday afternoon that the utility’s position on its water supply has not changed.

“It is business as usual for us,” Le Riche writes. “We are pleased to provide safe drinking water to the people of White Rock, and we support stakeholder involvement, including suggestions for any cost-effective solutions for its customers.”

White Rock officials announced in late February a decision to explore the feasibility of purchasing its water utility from the current supplier, Edmonton-based Epcor. The move came two months after Epcor advised its customers it is seeking approval for a project that will increase chlorination of the city’s water, upgrade infrastructure and boost storage and pumping capacity.

The chlorination was ordered by Fraser Health in response to contamination that sparked a boil-water advisory in 2010.

The proposed upgrades are anticipated to cost $11-12 million. While arsenic levels in the water supply are currently within the standards for Canadian drinking water, if that changes and treatment for it is deemed necessary, the tab will jump by an estimated $8-10 million.

Coun. Helen Fathers – who proposed in January that White Rock investigate the costs of hooking up to the Metro system – said Monday that if upgrades must be done, it makes more sense that it be an investment in a city-owned utility.

Coun. Larry Robinson – who did not support Father’s initial motion – agreed.

Robinson told Peace Arch News that  learning more about the difference between water from the two sources convinced him a switch to Metro is the way to go. It will avoid the need for chlorination and arsenic treatment, ultimately bringing citizens the best possible end product, he said.

While the financial cost will be high, quality is what matters, Robinson said.

“Quite frankly, White Rock, I think, we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“It’s going to be a big number… (but) water’s water. It’s fundamental.”

Council is to review the business case in a closed meeting Monday.