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. What improvements will the new Water Treatment System offer?
Q. When will the new Water Treatment System be complete?

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. Our water system relies solely on chlorination and elevated turbidity levels can interfere with the chlorination of the water and increase the risk of bacteria and viruses, triggering the need for boil water notices. A new water treatment plant that will eliminate turbidity related boil water notices will be fully operational by 2021. In the interim, the CVRD will install UV reactors in the existing treatment plant, adding a second level of treatment and raising the allowable NTU. This is expected to reduce boil water notices by up to 80 per cent. The UV reactors will then be moved to the new facility when constructed.

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Q. Why doesn't the CVRD install a deep water intake to deal with turbidity?
A. A deep water intake is one of five planned improvements to the Comox Valley Water Treatment System. An intake will provide access to cooler, cleaner water found deeper in the lake.

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Q. What improvements will the new Water Treatment System offer?
A. The new water treatment plant will use filtration, ultra-violet treatment and chlorination to remove bacteria, parasites and viruses from the water and eliminate the need for turbidity-related boil water notices. It will also include a deep water intake, raw water pump station near the intake, raw water pipeline to move water from the pump station to the treatment plant and a treated water pipeline to move water from the treatment plant to the water distribution system. More information on these improvements can be found at www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/watertreatment

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Q. When will the new Water Treatment System be complete?
A.
The new system will be operational by 2021. This is a large project with much planning required. For more information on the process and timelines for construction, please visit www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/watertreatment

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