LETTERS: Wading into the water issue

Water quality remains a much-debated topic in White Rock.


Open letter to the citizens of White Rock.

It is time we all woke up and realized “you can’t fight city hall.” It is time to develop a personal action plan to combat the inevitable use of chloramine in our water supply.

Start by categorizing your water uses – washing clothes and cars is not going to be a personal health and safety concern, washing your body and cleaning your teeth will be a minimal concern but drinking water and using it for making ice, cooking, etc., will be.

Expand the categories if you like, but start somewhere.

Now face the fact that it is totally impractical to think you can do anything meaningful at the end of the tap that isn’t going to cost you money and effort. The easiest step you can take is to start buying water. When purchased in large bottles like those used in office water coolers, the cost and hassle will be much less than buying flats of bottled water. Furthermore, the impact on the environment will be as low as you can hope for.

Pitcher-type systems will in some cases be more convenient but more costly than buying in large quantities. These systems may not produce adequate quality water because all they can do is improve upon what is poured into them in the first place.

There are ways to minimize costs, such as bulk buying for a single household or perhaps joining in with neighbours. Be practical and realize that bottled water is only as good as where it comes from. Most companies in the business choose their source carefully so as to minimize or avoid original contaminants. It is usually disinfected using ultra violet light or ozone which do not in themselves, constitute a contaminant nor produce any noxious by-products like chlorine-based chemicals. The source will not contain any significant quantities of inorganic contaminants and the bottling process will involve sophisticated filtering which will reduce these even further. (No water-bottling firm would ever locate in White Rock because the high arsenic and manganese salt content that exists in the raw water would definitely preclude its use.)

I am hoping that other readers will share some of their thoughts about what can practically be done to address the problem our city officials, both elected and paid employees, are about to bring down on our heads.

Bill Holmes, White Rock

I remain sceptical that there has ever been a need to do anything to our White Rock water but drink it from source.

For over 60 years, the water provided by Mother Nature courtesy of the natural aquifers which was filtered through the various levels of rock strata beneath us and required no intervention from man. This remained true until one fateful day in 2010 when lack of maintenance by Epcor left a cover on the Merklin reservoir exposed to pigeon poop causing the small but nonetheless concerning contamination of the water.

Despite the fact that no one got sick and despite a boil-water advisory, we were forced to take action by Fraser Health and draw up plans to treat our water despite no evidence that anywhere else in the system represented a threat to human health.

Previous to that, White Rock had been well-served by its custodians of our water. I have been living with treated water since then, being one of those whose water was obtained from that supply tower. To this day, I am convinced it was always a plan to treat our water and all it needed was the necessary reason to do so. Our supply was never in danger of being unsafe without treatment and in my opinion it isn’t now so why do we have to listen to Fraser Health? Do we not have the ability to say thanks but no thanks to their demands that we take the route of exposing our population to the inherent health risks by using chlorination or chloramination?

As usual, it’s human error and not Mother Nature at fault for why we now find ourselves discussing this topic. We have lost the pristine and well-preserved gift of naturally filtered and safe drinking water forever, it would seem. Trust us to screw up what we had been entrusted with.

Michael King, White Rock