EDITORIAL: Benefits outweigh water worries

Take it as a sign of the times.

The lack of public furor over the continued chlorination of White Rock’s water suggests residents have realized there are worse things in the world.

It certainly doesn’t loom that large next to the reported dangers of radiation spreading from an earthquake-shattered nuclear plant in Japan.

White Rock has prided itself for generations on its pristine water from underground streams. But it may well have been a case of ‘where ignorance is bliss’. Former White Rock councillor Vin Coyne reminded us during last year’s boil-water advisory that with open reservoirs in the 1950s and early ‘60s, White Rock water was likely host to far worse things than the few grams of bird poop that triggered the recent crisis.

A more polluted environment and the effects of aging infrastructure are facts of modern life.

And barring removing private utility Epcor from the picture and hooking the city up to the Metro Vancouver system – a ‘solution’ more easily said than done (or paid for) – or building a new water system from scratch, the wisest course is to place faith in Epcor’s stewardship and Fraser Health’s overall responsibility to ensure safe water.

However, White Rock residents would also be wise – and responsible – to educate themselves on the risks and benefits of chemically treated water.

Critics raise the possibility of chlorine reacting with other chemicals to create disinfection byproducts (DBPs), which some studies have linked to increased risk of cancers and miscarriages.

And further evidence suggests there are no quick fixes if byproduct dangers emerge.

Before we run in panic, it’s worth remembering that Fraser Health chief medical officer Dr. Paul Van Buynder has stated that DBP risks in White Rock from chlorination are minimal – most DBP problems arise where there is standing groundwater, as opposed to White Rock’s system which pumps water to the surface from far underground.

And as Van Buynder and Epcor director of water and wastewater services David Rector agree, a chlorinated system can monitor water quality in ‘real time’ rather than relying on spot tests.

If chlorinated water is now a permanent fact in White Rock, we may have to accept it as yet another price of living – and surviving – in the modern world.

Peace Arch News