VICTORIA – Provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall released the 2011
Progress Report on the Action Plan for Safe Drinking Water in British
Columbia today, outlining progress made and highlighting areas for
additional improvement in the province’s drinking water systems.
The report covers programs during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 fiscal years,
and is a mandated function of the PHO under the Drinking Water Protection
Act. During this reporting period, drinking water officers conducted more
than 4,800 water system inspections and government provided $935,000 to
assist in 101 planning projects.
The report highlights progress made on the Province’s drinking water
quality goals set out in the Action Plan for Safe Drinking Water. For
* No community outbreaks of water-borne illness related to drinking water
systems were reported during the reporting period.
* The number of water systems with valid operating permits increased by
over 1,000 to a total of 4,539 in March 2009. In addition, the number of
systems with an emergency response plan increased from under 1,500 in 2007
to over 2,500 in 2009.
* The number of boil-water advisories increased from 480 in 2006 to 604 in
March 2009, reflecting increased emphasis on assessing small systems and
ensuring that those failing to meet safety criteria were issuing
appropriate advisories to their customers.
* Regulations under the Environmental Management Act were introduced or
updated and include measures that will serve to protect drinking water.
* The Ministry of Environment continued to develop water quality
guidelines for specific water quality variables in source water, and
established water quality objectives to protect the most sensitive water
use at a specific location.
* During the reporting period, the Ministry of Community and Rural
Development provided 101 grants to communities to help them plan for
improvements to their drinking water systems.
* Regional drinking water teams were established in each of the regional
health authorities to ensure co-ordination across ministries.
* The Water Action Plan for B.C. was finalized.
Despite this progress, there remain challenges that continue to need
further work. For example, data collection and reporting at a regional and
provincial level continues to be an issue. However, health authorities
have been working to make improvements to their information management
In addition, there remains a lack of drinking water infrastructure in some
smaller communities. However, protocols do exist to allow transfer of
water systems to local government as local service areas, with full access
to infrastructure grants.
Drinking water quality is crucial to the health and safety of British
Columbians – the Province and health authorities are always working to
make sure B.C.’s drinking water is safe and looking for ways to improve
processes. Through the Ministry of Health and the regional health
authorities, policies and regulations under the Drinking Water Protection
Act continue to be refined to address known and emerging issues, and
maintain high drinking water quality standards.
Dr. Perry Kendall, provincial health officer said, “Government continues to make progress to protect and improve the health of British Columbia’s drinking water systems, though there remains more work to do. Here in B.C., we have over 4,550 water systems, the vast majority of which are small systems. It is important that we continue to work with operators to help them maintain water safety.”
Read the full drinking water report at:
Read more about drinking water in B.C. and the Drinking Water Protection