White Rock Water: Why some residents have Brown Water while others have Clear. And why you should care…

White Rock water is not what it used to be. Ever since White Rock City Council voted to take over control of our water from EPCOR, over 500 residents have complained about problems with their drinking water.

If your water is coming out of the tap brown and smelly, it is because of where your water comes from and what your City Hall is doing to treat it. But if your water is clear and fresh smelling, do not relax as there may be more going on than you realize! Read on…

What you see out of the tap depends on which well you get your water from. Each of the wells in White Rock have their own unique chemistry. The city has claimed that it can blend the water from various wells to offset some of the higher levels of arsenic and manganese in some wells, but we have seen no evidence that they can actually do this.

Those who complain about brown water, tend to get their water from the Oxford well which is very high in manganese. When the city adds chlorine to the water, the manganese precipitates out leaving the brown colour. The city has recently started to add ammonia to get rid of the brown colour, but do you really want water that smells like bleach? 

For those near George Street and south of the hospital, you are getting your water from the Merklin well. This well is very high in arsenic. Arsenic is clear and has no taste. However, long term exposure to high arsenic levels in water is linked to higher risk of internal organ cancers according to Health Canada.
More Arsenic or More Maganese
Most cities with excessive manganese use chlorine because it precipitates it out of the water leaving a brown residue, but those cities filter out the precipitated manganese at the pumping station, leaving safe clean drinking water coming out of your taps.

Unfortunately, White Rock does not filter its water once the Manganese precipitates, so this brown gunk ends up in your taps. While manganese is mostly a cosmetic issue, prolonged exposure to high manganese levels in drinking water has been linked to a higher risk of cognitive function impairment in children and some adults.

Do Not Mix with Tap Water

Not much of a choice: chlorine and ammonia laden water, or arsenic. To us, the choice is clear, as it was to Fraser Health: White Rock should connect to safe and clean Metro Vancouver water.

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