Manganese and Your Health

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?

More Arsenic or More Maganese

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.

Several of the City’s wells exceeded the guideline limit for Manganese in the latest posted March 2017 water metal test results:
Water Test Results - March 2017 - Highlighted
As reported in the PAN on July 21st 2016 here:

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.

What’s in your Water?

That depends on which well you get your water from. Some wells are high in Manganese, while others are higher in Arsenic. The recommended maximum level for Manganese is 0.05 mg/L, while the maximum for arsenic is 0.01 mg/L.

Water Test Results - March 2017 - Highlighted

The above chart is from March 2017. How good is your drinking water?

Chloramine Info Center

The City is adding Chloramine to help get rid of problems with brown water experienced by many White Rock Residents. But is this the best solution for Whiter Whites? 

Chloramine hides the Manganese but creates ever bigger problems!

Chloramine is deadly to Marine Life!
Surrey stopped using Chloramine after it killed all the salmon in nearby creeks. Chloramine is deadly to marine life. Mayor Baldwin back in the January 11th 2016 Council Meeting rejected Chloramine due to its potential impact on Salmon in nearby Campbell River on the Semiahmoo First Nations land.

How does Chloramine affect your health
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 and how it affected the residents of Flint Michigan at the Chloramine Info Center.

Chloramine Information Center

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.

Update on White Rock Orange Tides

It has been confirmed that this is rust (Iron Oxide) coming from our pipes and leaking into the ocean through the Anderson storm drains. That our water infrastructure is rusting does not surprise us, but that City Hall spent over $15M to purchase the water works from EPCOR in a secret deal and refuses to provide the public with the details of the plan until the next election should have everyone demand that those details be released immediately!

Orange Tides in White Rock

What is causing this orange water at our beach? The city speculates that it may be organic material, but orange algae blooms occur in the ocean, not in storm sewers as is happening in this case. This has happened before. It happened in early June 2014, and also in 2007.

One research scientist examined a sample of the orange slime coming from the Anderson storm sewer, and said it looked like simple inorganic Iron Oxide (aka rust!). The samples are still being tested, but it seems unlikely that this is organic material since the orange water was coming directly from the Anderson storm drains, and were emptying into the beach.

Could this rust be coming from our water mains that White Rock paid EPCOR over $15M for? Could this be why over 500 residents had complained recently of brown muddy water coming out of their tapes in the last few weeks?

All speculation at this point, but we will keep you informed as we learn more.
For more, read the May 8th Peace Arch News article here.
Orange Waters in White Rock - May 8th from Anderson Outflow

Chloramine in our drinking water?

Please join the White Rock Safe Water Alliance. Help us make sure that White Rock residents can have safe water to drink. Due to over 500 complaints of brown muddy water, the city is reversing last year’s promise, and now adding Chloramine to your drinking water. Your water may look cleaner, but it now contains even more chemicals in it. Chloramine is known to leach lead out of existing pipes, and is also deadly to marine life as was seen when Surrey tried to introduce Chloramine several years ago. The Chloramine decimated the salmon fry in nearby creeks. If Surrey decided adding Chloramine was a mistake for them, can Chloramine be a good choice for White Rock?
No Chloramine
Fraser Health told us that they prefer that White Rock should be connected to Vancouver City water through Surrey. Later, Fraser Health met with City Councillors in a meeting closed to the public, where Fraser Health insisted that the Peace Arch Hospital be connected to GVRD water to ensure that the hospital had access to safe clean drinking water in the event of a similar fire that occurred in Five Corners last May 19th, when the top 3 floors of the hospital had no water, and a Boil Water Advisory was mandated soon afterwards.

If our water is not good enough for the Peace Arch Hospital, is it good enough for you? 
Public Upset about Chloramine on May 1st City Council Meeting