Parksville staff members monitor the city’s water supply. (File photo)

COVID-19: Parksville officials say virus poses no threat to drinking water

City issues statement to reassure residents; notes water is treated to eliminate viruses, pathogens

Parkville city officials want to reassure residents about the safety of local drinking water.

The city issued a press release on Wednesday, stating the virus that causes COVID-19 does not present a threat to the safety of, nor has has it been detected in Parksville’s drinking water.

“The City and the Englishman River Water Service, which supplies water to residents and businesses in Parksville and the Nanoose Bay Peninsula Water, have indicated that the coronavirus does not present a threat to the safety of the water, which goes through a treatment process that involves membrane filtration, ultra-violet light and chlorine disinfection,” said the release. “Membrane filtration removes bacteria and viruses naturally found in surface river water and the ability to deal with spikes in turbidity (muddy water). A multi-step treatment that includes filtration and disinfection remove and kill viruses, including coronaviruses as well as bacteria and other pathogens.”

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The new ERWS water treatment plant began testing in 2019 and was commissioned in January 2020.

“It is well-equipped to protect the integrity of the drinking water supply,” stated the release.

It stated that Island Health issues operating permits to ERWS and is in compliance with operating guidelines. ERWS has many operating safeguards in place to protect the integrity of the water system, including:

• Emergency response plan for water treatment and water distribution systems.

• During the testing period, city and Regional District of Nanaimo staff received extensive training and a Level 4 water treatment operator was hired to run the daily operations of the plant. In addition to the Level 4 operator, the plant employs one Level 3 water treatment operator as well as three Level 2 water treatment operators, all capable of providing coverage in an emergency.

• The city’s mutual aid agreements include operational support for the water treatment plant from neighbouring governments in the event of an emergency. This could include sharing of skilled/certified staffing for plant operations.

• Arrangements have been made with other mid-Island local governments which would allow sharing of qualified staff should there be staff shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. CUPE 401 has agreed there would be no collective agreement barriers to facilitating this need should it arise.

“Protection and enhancement of the water supply is a priority for the City of Parksville and the Englishman River Water Service,” the release stated.

— NEWS Staff, submitted

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