Union Bay boils water, new turbidity standards
Union Bay residents are boiling water today that before August they were drinking from the tap. That’s when Island Health’s standard for turbidity in water from Langely Lake changed from 3 NTUs to 1 NTU.
Turbidity is the degree to which light is scattered by particles suspended in a liquid. And an NTU is a Nephelometric Turbidity Unit, a method of measuring turbidity uses a white light at 90 degrees to the detecting sensor.
The Union Bay Improvement District issued the boil water advisory on the weekend after heavy rainfalls and high winds stirred up the water in Langley Lake, the source of Union Bay’s drinking water. The UBID treats its water with chlorine, but turbidity can disrupt that process.
The UBID is currently designing a water treatment plant that will address the new turbidity standard and reduce water quality advisories. It is expected to issue a tender for construction next March.
Check the UBID website for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q.: How do I boil tap water so that it is safe to consume?
Tap water should be boiled for one minute. Use any clean pot or kettle. Kettles that have automatic shut offs are acceptable. After boiling, let the water cool by leaving it on the counter or in the refrigerator in covered containers. After water is boiled it can be stored in food grade containers at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Q.: When will the notice be lifted?
The notice will be lifted once the health authorities, in conjunction with the Superintendent of Waterworks, have concluded that the potential risk has been mitigated.
Q.: What are the health risks during a boil water notice?
The health risks associated with ingesting water that has not been boiled are hard to estimate. The Notice was issued because conditions exist that make it impossible to ensure the safety of the water without boiling it first. The risk could be low if no actual contamination occurred or very high if pathogens are present. However, you can be confident that boiling your tap water for one minute is sufficient to destroy any pathogens that are present in the water.
It is important to note that Boil Water Notices are specific to microbiological threats. They are not appropriate to address threats from chemical contamination. Boiling chemically contaminated water will only result in the chemical becoming more concentrated or release the chemical into the air where it could be inhaled. In such cases a different kind of Notice would be used.
Q.: What should I do once the notice has been lifted?
· Run cold-water faucets and drinking fountains for one minute before using the water
· Drain and flush all ice-making machines in your refrigerator
· Run water softeners through a regeneration cycle
· Drain and refill hot water tanks set below 45 C (normal setting is 60 C)
· Change any pre-treatment filters (under sink style and refrigerator water filters, carbon block, activated carbon, sediment filters, etc.)
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Dial down the turbidity numbers to 1 and then call foul. Were people getting sick off the old turbidity numbers? No.