VIHA lifts no-use water advisory for Shawnigan Lake

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

 

Island Health lifts no-water-use advisory for the

south-end of Shawnigan Lake
Island Health is lifting a no-water-use water advisory for the south end of Shawnigan Lake after inspections and Ministry of Environment laboratory tests confirm there is no risk to the public’s health.

 

“This incident may not have put people at risk, but does highlight the importance of protecting both public and private drinking water sources,” said Island Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Paul Hasselback. “For people who draw lake water for private residence drinking purposes, like some residents on Shawnigan Lake, it is important that they have proper treatment processes in place.”

 

Island Health issued the no-water-use advisory on Friday as a precaution due to a suspected non-containment of surface water from the South Island Aggregates site. The advisory applied to the south end of Shawnigan Lake, south of Butler Avenue on the west side of the lake and south of Verlon Road to the east.

 

No-water-use means just that: do not use or draw water for residential or commercial use including bathing/personal hygiene, drinking and food preparation.

 

A second incident of water overflow occurred at the site earlier today. However, inspection of the site confirmed the public’s health continues to be protected. Additional testing is underway to help inform future possible events.

 

Questions from the public can be directed to the Environmental Health Office in Duncan, at 250.737.2010 or by email HPES.Duncan@viha.ca .

Backgrounder 

 

·        On November 13 at 2:30 p.m., Island Health was notified by the Ministry of Environment of non-containment of surface water from the South Island Aggregates site. Water flow from this area travels several kilometres in Shawnigan Creek and enters the south end of Shawnigan Lake.

 

·        After a comprehensive review of the situation and discussion of risk, Island Health’s Medical Health Officers recommended that water in the south section of the lake not be used for drinking water until an investigation was completed.

 

·        At 4:30 p.m., Island Health issued a blanket no-water-use advisory advising residents not to use water taken out of the lake from the south end of Shawnigan Lake – south of Butler Avenue on the west side of the lake, and south of Verlon Road on the east side of the lake. The advisory was issued through mainstream and social media channels. 

 

·        A no-water-use advisory means just that: do not use or draw water for residential or commercial use including bathing/personal hygiene, drinking and food preparation.

 

·        No permitted (licensed) drinking water systems under the Drinking Water Protection Act – which applies to systems serving some commercial establishments and more than two residences – draw water from this area of the lake.

 

·        Residents around Shawnigan Lake have been encouraged to use communal water systems or appropriate water treatment to provide protection.

 

·        It is generally assumed that some private residents who draw water from the lake may not properly treat the water; hence the cautionary advisory to not use the water was issued.

 

·        Over the weekend, officials from Ministry of Environment conducted further site inspections and collected water sampling from:

o   the location of the excursion of surface water off the South Island Aggregates property;

o   the treatment facility discharge; and

o   the creek close to the mouth into the lake.

 

·        As well, visual inspection and photos confirmed limited in-creek to lake sediment movement.

 

·        Final test results received on Tuesday, November 17 show that there was no risk to the public’s health had water been consumed or used.

 

·        Island Health’s Medical Health Officer took additional time on Tuesday to make a decision about the advisory because of new reports of non-containment of surface water at the site due to ongoing precipitation.

 

·        On-site inspections suggest that the flow of water across the site, the modifications for site containment since Friday November 13, volume of water released, and the dilution in high stream flow conditions all maintained protection of the lake.

 

·        Additional tests will be conducted November 17.

 

·        Long-term resolution will require appropriate water containment within the site and would be directed by Ministry of the Environment.

 

Central/North Island media inquiries

Valerie Wilson

Manager, Regional Communications

250.739.6303

valerie.wilson@viha.ca

South Island media inquiries:
Kellie Hudson

Media Relations Manager

250.370.8908

Kellie.Hudson@viha.ca