Frequency Asked Questions

Q. Why would a boil water notice be issued for those connected to the Comox Valley water system?
Q. What is turbidity and why is it an issue for our drinking water?
Q. How often does the CVRD test the water and what level of turbidity is acceptable?
Q. What treatment system does the CVRD have to manage turbidity?
Q. Why doesn't the CVRD install a deep water intake to deal with turbidity?

Q. Why would a boil water notice be issued for those connected to the Comox Valley water system?
A. A boil water notice would be issued in conjunction with Island Health because of elevated turbidity levels.  

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Q. What is turbidity and why is it an issue for our drinking water?
A. Turbidity is a water quality term that refers to fine suspended particles that are picked up by water as it passes through streams and rivers within a watershed. The turbidity within the Comox Valley water system that is currently causing the boil water notice is a very fine material that tends to stay in suspension and doesn’t regularly settle. There is nothing that can be done to accelerate the settling process as it is a naturally occurring phenomenon in the lake, and therefore we cannot predict how long the condition will persist, nor how long the notice will need to remain in place. Elevated turbidity levels in the water may interfere with the disinfection processes and reduce the available chlorine residual that inactivates any harmful bacteria.

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Q. How often does the CVRD test the water and what level of turbidity is acceptable?
A. The CVRD works closely with Island Health to monitor the situation, and testing of water for turbidity is completed on a continuous basis at the main intake and on a daily basis in other parts of the water system. The turbidity guidelines are set by Island Health and the acceptable level is normally 1 NTU (Nephelometric Turbidity Units - the measure of turbidity levels).  When turbidity levels are elevated and a boil water notice is issued, it is in the best interest of the community and its public health for users to boil their drinking water for one minute at a rolling boil. 

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Q. What treatment system does the CVRD have to manage turbidity?
A. At this time the Comox Valley Regional District does not have a treatment system to remove turbidity from the water. The CVRD worked with a consultant on a water treatment options study and decisions have been made to pursue a water filtration plant that will help reduce the need for boil water notices in the future.

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Q. Why doesn't the CVRD install a deep water intake to deal with turbidity?
A. Based on several years of water quality monitoring in Comox Lake a deep water intake, if installed, would still provide turbid water and still require a boil water notice. A deep water intake may still be installed as part of a future treatment project as it provides other benefits, such as a reduction in surface water risks.

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