The brown water seen in many of our taps in White Rock is often caused by high levels of Manganese from our well water. When the city chose to add Chlorine to our water, as mandated by Fraser Health, this caused the Manganese to precipitate out, causing muddy brown water. Adding chlorine is the recommended way to get rid of Manganese, combined with filtering at the water pumping site. White Rock city council has chosen not to do filtering at this time, so this unfiltered mess finds it’s way into our homes. If you receive your water from the Oxford well, your water is likely high in Manganese. If your water comes from another well such as Merklin, your Manganese levels will be lower and your water clear. Which well do you get your water from?
What is White Rock City Hall doing about the high levels of Manganese?
To hide this brown mess, White Rock decided to add ammonia in the form of Chloramine to the water. This only hides the Manganese, it is still in your water, now combined with Chloramine. While low levels of Manganese is only considered a cosmetic problem, higher amounts have been linked to Health Canada has linked higher levels to health problems such as impairment of cognitive brain function and lower IQs in children.
So is Chloramine the best solution for Whiter Whites?
No! Chloramine hides the Manganese but creates ever bigger problems!
Chloramine corrodes older pipes, leaching lead into drinking water .
Lead in drinking water is a serious health problem. Chloramine can cause the lead in older pipes to leach into drinking water. You can read more about the affects of Chloramine at the Chloramine Info Center.
Chloramine kill Marine Life
While Chlorine in tap water dissipates and has only short term impact on marine life, Chloramine run-off does not dissipate and is deadly to salmon and marine life. While many cities use Chloramine, cities near environmentally sensitive marine environments do not. Vancouver and Surrey both stopped using it after salmon runs were devastated in nearby creeks by the chloramine.
At the January 11 2016 Council Meeting, Mayor Baldwin voted against the use of Chloramine due to risks to salmon in the Campbell River on Semiahmoo First Nation land:
Mayor Baldwin: “it is not acceptable for us to allow chloraminated water to go into the Campbell River which is part of the Semiahmoo First Nations traditional grounds it is their water in essence. And it is disrespectful, it would be disrespectful to do that, to create an environmental situation in their traditional grounds.”
How does Manganese affect your health?
In a 2010 assessment by Health Canada, while exposure to small amounts of Manganese is considered safe, long-term exposure to “moderate levels of exposure can result in worsening of subclinical neurological function including fine motor control, tremor, memory and cognitive ability”, especially if inhaled (as in a shower). A 2011 study published in the journal “Environmental Health Perspectives” concluded that “exposure to manganese at levels common in groundwater is associated with intellectual impairment in children”.
How much Manganese is safe, and how much is too much?
Health Canada, in its 2016 report, stated that the maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) for drinking water is 0.1 mg/L, while the MAC for aesthetics is 0.02 mg/L. White Rock sets the Guideline limit of 0.05 mg/L.
Manganese levels for May show the Merklin Low Reservoir registering 0.119 mg. per litre, the Stevens sample station at 0.112, the Roper PVR at 0.111 and the Russell Avenue sample station at 0.109 – all more than twice the guideline maximum level of 0.05 mg/L – all more than twice the guideline maximum level of 0.05 mg/L.
Health Canada also indicates that inhaled Manganese is a concern, and should be limited to 0.05 micrograms/cubic meter according to this 2010 Health Canada report “Human Health Risk Assessment for Inhaled Manganese“. So if your water is very high in Manganese, you may want to avoid showers and take baths instead.
What is White Rock doing about this?
The city is planning on spending $14M on treatment plants at Oxford and Merklin sites, with an annual operating and maintenance cost of $400k/year. These plants will not be ready until at least 2019, one year after the next election. Is this money well spent or is it too little too late?
What do we think White Rock should do?
To us, the answer is clear. As recommended by Fraser Health back in 2013, we beleive White Rock should connect up to clean and safe Vancouver City water. In the long run, it is cheaper and safer as it is managed by Vancouver by a large team of water quality professions. White Rock’s well water has too many problems, and it is too expensive to fix them all within our small city by the Sea.