Measures at City of Nanaimo’s South Fork Water Treatment Plant, pictured here, and various water treatment across Regional District of Nanaimo will take care of coronavirus, say officials. (Nanaimo News Bulletin file)

Island officials say water treatment already in place to combat COVID-19

South Fork, Englishman River water treatment use membrane, UV filtering

Treatment already in place ensures drinking water is not contaminated with coronavirus, say regional district and City of Nanaimo officials.

As of Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C. health officer, said there have been 79 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Island Health region. Regional District of Nanaimo and city systems both treat water in various ways to ensure it is safe to drink, say Murray Walters, RDN manager of water services and Mike Squire, city manager of water resources.

City water is treated at South Fork Water Treatment Plant and Squire says safety measures begin at the watershed, with membrane filtration (primary treatment), ultraviolet disinfection and chlorination among the processes.

“Basically the pore size of the membranes is small enough that a virus, or harmful bacteria, will not fit through,” said Squire. “If it does in fact get into the water system, I don’t believe it would live in the waters for very long. But there’s no chance of it filtering through into the potable water supply.”

Squire said the city does daily monitoring and testing and as far as COVID-19 virus in the water, and said there’s no risk.

RELATED: $42M water treatment plant opens in Parksville

The RDN has nine water service areas and the Englishman River water treatment plant in Parksville, which has measures similar to City of Nanaimo, including membrane filtration and UV. Walters said water usage has been the same during the COVID-19 pandemic and disinfection routines in all RDN water supplies are as effective at killing coronavirus as other viruses.

“Essentially we use … chlorine as the disinfecting agent in all of our treatment plants and in addition to that, some of them have ultraviolet disinfection as well, so it’s kind of on a system by system. They’re all a bit specific, but they all, at least, use chlorine for disinfection,” said Walters.

Like the city, the RDN also tests water regularly, which is mandated by the B.C. Ministry of Health, said Walters.

“Different tests are done at different intervals, but it’s tested by regulation regularly and even more often than regulation when there’s any indication that maybe we had a bit of an equipment hiccup,” said Walters. “The testing frequency is not up to us, but we exceed what’s required by regulation.”

READ ALSO: RDN in Stage 2 water restrictions, Nanaimo in Stage 1



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