White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin has no concerns about the city's plan to treat the water supply with chloramine.

White Rock mayor douses water critics

Baldwin 'not concerned' about negative health effects of chloramine cited by some residents.

White Rock’s plan to add chloramine to its water supply starting next month poses no health concerns to residents, according to Mayor Wayne Baldwin.

The decision to disinfect the water supply with chloramine – a combination of chlorine and ammonia – was announced Dec. 14 by senior staff, who cited better esthetics due to the high levels of manganese in the water as one of the driving forces behind choosing the method over just chlorine.

Baldwin noted chloramination is a process Epcor had planned to use prior to selling the water utility to the city, as well as one recommended by city consultants and approved by Fraser Health, who, in 2011, mandated the city treat its supply following a boil-water advisory the previous year.

“It’s a valid process for disinfection and maintaining a residual in the water so that we can tell whether or not there’s an infection going on,” Baldwin told Peace Arch News Tuesday. “It’s valid, and it’s not a health concern, otherwise Fraser Health wouldn’t have approved it.”

News of the city’s plans has been poorly received by some residents, who have expressed concerns about health risks associated with chloramine use.

Baldwin said he doesn’t share those concerns, noting many of the negative comments he has seen came from “some of those who are steadfastly opposed to council on just about every issue.”

“We drink the water, too. Our families drink the water, my grandchildren drink the water,” he said. “I would not knowingly poison my grandchildren. So, no, I’m not concerned about it.”

When chloramination begins in White Rock in January, it won’t be the first time residents on the Semiahmoo Peninsula have their water treated with the chemical – in 1988, during a system-wide review of the Greater Vancouver Water District’s treatment strategy, a five-year pilot project took place in neighbouring South Surrey, where the water supply of 70,000 residents was treated with chloramine.

A 1994 report highlighting the findings of the study indicated that chloramine was the preferred disinfection option for the region, citing it as more effective than chlorine at controlling bacteria regrowth, less expensive, better tasting and quicker to implement.

Health officials also favoured chloramine over chlorine, according to the report, which stated that chlorination would form “significantly higher disinfection by-products” – notably trihalomethanes (THMs), which are suspected carcinogens.

Environmental officials cited in the report, however, were opposed to chloramination due to its potential harm on fish-bearing streams.

While both chlorine and chloramine are harmful to fish and other aquatic life, the report notes that chloramines are “more persistent in the environment and do not dissipate as rapidly as chlorine if discharged to streams and lakes.”

Water-main breaks in South Surrey in October 1989 and July 1990 were blamed for killing thousands of juvenile salmon in Fergus Creek during the chloramination-test period, incidents that were cited in the GVWD report as “drawbacks” for chloramination.

In weighing chlorine versus chloramine, the report described the options as “an unusual circumstance where public health and environmental concerns are at odds.”

After an extensive public-consultation process – which saw strong opposition to the use of chloramine – the GVWD decided upon chlorination for the region.

Risks to White Rock’s aquatic life was one concern brought up by Baldwin at the Dec. 14 council meeting, when he questioned staff about mitigation measures that would be in place in the event of a main break or other pipe flushing.

Director of engineering and municipal operations Greg St. Louis said water-utility staff will carry “chemical pucks” that neutralize the chloramine in the event of a water-main break.

Baldwin said this week he was satisfied with that procedure, and noted that tentative plans – as discussed at council – would be for the city to switch back to chlorination once the water’s high levels of manganese have been addressed.

“I think we should be OK,” Baldwin said.

“And I believe the plan is, once we deal with the manganese in the water, then we would revert to just chlorine.”

Just Posted

Coldest Night an event for warm hearts

Sources’ White Rock event one of 130 walkathons across Canada on Feb. 23

Guatemala mission offers hope, health

Peninsula team to visit remote villages, build a home, in Piedra Blanca

MK Delta Lands development another step closer to breaking ground

Delta needs Metro Vancouver’s okay before swapping hundreds of acres and adding it to Burns Bog

VIDEO: A new Hive climbing/fitness facility coming to Surrey in 20,000-sq.-ft. space

‘Bouldering’ and other activities planned at site near Pattullo Bridge

PHOTOS: Surrey teacher’s annual fitness fundraiser raises $23K in six years

‘Zumbathon’ led by Elaine Chong draws 350 people to Fleetwood Park Secondary gym

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Prominent B.C. realtor says he doesn’t know how child porn got on his computer

Closing arguments heard in Ian Meissner’s Chilliwack trial for accessing, possessing child porn

Plecas won’t run in next election if B.C. legislature oversight reforms pass

B.C. Speaker and Abbotsford South MLA says he feels ‘great sympathy’ for Jody Wilson-Raybould

Workshop with ‘accent reduction’ training cancelled at UBC

The workshop was cancelled the same day as an email was sent out to international students

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Avalanche control planned tomorrow on Highway 1

The highway will be closed in the morning east of Revelstoke

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Mayors approve SkyTrain extension to UBC

Next step is a business plan and public consultation

Most Read

l -->