Is any amount of Arsenic, Manganese, Chloramine and other chemicals safe in your water? An Interview with Dennis Lypka.

UBC Associate Professor Dr. Trevor Drummer, of the Cancer Prevention Centre at UBC, was in White Rock on July 26th, and used data and facts to show evidence that drinking White Rock water with high levels of arsenic poses a health risk. He added that in his opinion, he would not drink White Rock water with high arsenic levels, and believes that the current Health Canada Guideline needs to be reduced.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin has been quoted in the paper as saying “The arsenic does occasionally pop up, not from the whole system, but from one or two wells,” Baldwin said. “If it blends with the rest of the water, it’s OK, it’s not an issue.”

Mayor Baldwin says that IF this high arsenic water blends with the rest of the water, then it’s ok. What he failed to mention is that the city currently has no way to blend water in a controlled way to reduce arsenic levels. Listen to facts, not political spin.

Rather than listen to facts, Politicians provide Alternative-Facts that make themselves look good by minimizing the perception of health risks, while doing nothing to eliminate the risks themselves. Who do you believe?

How much Arsenic, Manganese, Chloramine and other chemicals is too much to be safe in your water? Dennis Lypka, one of the founding members of the White Rock Safe Water Alliance, discusses our water and health risks in the following interview.

Our Tax Dollars at Work?

Our water bills keep going up, our services that we get for our tax dollars, along with the quality of our water, keep going down. This is what tap water looked like this morning, June 5th 2017, in the Coldicutt area of White Rock. 

If you live along the Oxford Street corridor, you may be more likely to have brown water coming from your taps these days. The brown color comes from the high manganese levels on the West side of White Rock. The West side (water from the Oxford and High Street wells) usually has the higher manganese level, while the East side (water from the Merklin well site) usually has the highest concentration of arsenic.

More Arsenic or More Maganese

Is it time for another demonstration at City Hall?
The Mayor and Council do not seem to be listening. If interested in joining a rally for clean water. please contact the White Rock Safe Water Alliance through email at WhiteRockSafeWaterAlliance@gmail.com. We will add you to our mailing list and keep you informed about upcoming rallies on water.

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.
Crabby

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?

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.