The Town of Osoyoos is adding “a minimum amount of chlorine” into the water it draws into its water system from aquifer wells — a change it says it is making at the request of the Interior Health Authority.
“They would like us to go to a full water treatment program eventually,” said Jim Dinwoodie, the Town’s Director of Operational Services, Monday morning. “In the interim, what Interior Health is asking us to do is inject a little bit of chlorine into our system.”
The Town started adding the chlorine late last week following direction made “a couple of weeks ago,” Mr. Dinwoodie said.
“It’s something where we really don’t have a choice in the matter,” said Mr. Dinwoodie. “Interior Health are the ones who provide us with our permit to operate the water distribution system. If they want chlorine added, they get chlorine added.”
According to Health Canada, “chlorine is a disinfectant added to drinking water to reduce or eliminate microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, which can be present in water supplies.”
The microorganisms can be a big problem for the Town over the winter months when the community’s population decreases, Mr. Dinwoodie said.
“We have really, really big pipes in town because we have such a wide variation in our populations. In the summer, we have 20,000 tourists here so we need big pipes to accommodate the water. However, in the winter we’ve got 5,000 people here so that big pipe is half empty,” he explained.
“The bad bugs in the air can get into the system. (Interior health) wants to make sure that everything is safe by adding a little chlorine.”
Judy Eckert, a Specialist Environmental Health Officer with Interior health, says the Town in past years had tried other ways to rid its system of the microorganisms that spread when it merged its three water systems in the fall.
“They’ve had some problems when they change over the system between irrigation and rejoin it to the town system in the fall of each year,” she explained.
“BC is one of the few places that doesn’t automatically require all ground water sources to have a chlorine residue throughout the distribution system. We don’t require it unless there is a problem that can’t be resolved another way.”
Interior Health’s Drinking Water Advisory Map is reporting boil water notices for the Osoyoos Irrigation District, Cabana Beach Campground & RV Park Water system, the Tamri Campground Water System and the Boundary Irrigation System.
Otherwise, the map shows no water advisories for the Town of Osoyoos, although Interior health notes that the Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines recommend a “multi-barrier approach” to ensure drinking water is safe to consume and otherwise use.
That includes water being treated “using at least two methods, such as filtration and chlorination, to make sure that it is safe to use.”
For those who do not want chlorine in their drinking water, activated carbon filters can be used to remove chlorine and its by-products.
“If you want to get rid of the chlorine, you can use one of those devices,” said Ms. Eckert. “We just recommend that you use a clean container and put it in the fridge.”