Canadian Consulting Engineer

Water supply problems continue in Vancouver

November 21, 2006
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

Most of Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver and Burnaby, B.C. were under a boil water advisory following hea...

Most of Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver and Burnaby, B.C. were under a boil water advisory following heavy rainstorms during the first half of November.
By November 21, over one million residents in the Vancouver area were being advised to drink bottle water for the sixth consecutive day. The turbidity levels in reservoirs in the mountainous watersheds to the north of the city was up to 30 NTUs, six times the acceptable level.
The mayor of Vancouver used the crisis to emphasize that the Greater Vancouver Regional District’s $600-million investment in upgrading the region’s water supply is a sound decision. Among other projects, the GVRD is building a filtration plant at the Seymour reservoir that will be Canada’s largest when it is completed. It will serve 70% of Greater Vancouver. The plant, designed by a consortium of Stantec, AMEC and Black and Veatch, is linked by a 7-kilometre twin tunnels to the Capilano reservoir (see Canadian Consulting Engineer January/February 2005). Hatch Mott MacDonald and Golder are engineering the tunnels.
In a press release on November 20, Sam Sullivan, the mayor, said “This incident underscores the need for this investment. I recall that some people were initially against the region spending the money, but given what happened this past week and that Vancouver may anticipate more storms, I believe the filtration plant will now be considered a necessary move.”
The Coquitlam reservoir was upgraded with an ozone disinfection plant in 1999.
The mayor was also proposing that the city should implement a 3-1-1 emergency telephone service in the near future. “I believe this type of situation helps to underscore the important need for our City Council to seriously consider the implementation of a 3-1-1 service for the City of Vancouver,” he said. “Citizens have been telling me they didn’t know who to call for information about our water quality. 3-1-1 would provide citizens with a single number to call — 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in multiple languages — to access information and city services.


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