Ucluelet’s drinking water (Westerly file photo)

Ucluelet’s drinking water (Westerly file photo)

UPDATED: Ucluelet’s water flushing program pays off

District says the spring flushing produced some of the lowest manganse levels in recent memory

All that water flushing that took place in March to reduce unwanted sediment worked, according to Ucluelet’s director of engineering services James Macintosh.

He shared the results of the flushing with mayor and council during the June 14 regular meeting.

“All the flushing, all that challenge that the community went through in the spring, it produced some of the lowest manganese levels that the community has seen in recent memory,” said Macintosh.

The District of Ucluelet receives water from two sources: Lost Shoe Creek Aquifer and Mercantile Creek. According to Macintosh, the district’s water quality regularly tests higher in Manganese, Iron and turbidity than the regulatory criteria defined by the Canadian Clean Water Drinking Act. The last time the district’s water distribution system was flushed was in 2017.

Macintosh said the mineral build-up was quite a bit more than anticipated and appeared to be seasonal. He recommended that the flushing continue regularly, in smaller doses, and preferably off-season.

Councillor Lara Kemps, who is the assistant general manager at Black Rock Resort, said she was able to remove the informational cards that were placed in the rooms that apologizes to guests for the district’s brown water levels.

“This has been a long time coming. Thank you. I think not only for myself, but the whole community, it’s about time that this is happening and it’s embarrassing that this hasn’t been happening,” Kemps said.

Mayor Mayco Noel echoed her statements.

“Thank you. Your straight up approach is a breath of fresh air for all of us in the community here,” said Noel. “I have a filter at my home and after all the cleaning, I’ve never seen the filter white. It’s still white. It’s remarkable, so keep up the good work.”

Macintosh noted in his report to council that during the course of the three week flushing period, heavy sediment was pushed across the inlet affecting the water quality for the Ucluelet First Nation (UFN) community of Hitacu, which has a water service agreement with the district. He said the public works team worked with UFN water operators for several weeks post-flushing to help improved the water quality.

“Unfortunately, Ucluelet First Nation is downstream from our core central system and so they received really quite a lot of sediment. They were testing high in manganese and high in other metals for quite some time, actually really since we had the submarine line break, they were having some water treatment and water quality challenges,” said Macintosh, adding that it took about three weeks to receive positive test results from the lab saying they were “all clear”.

UFN assets manager Spencer Touchie confirmed that Hitacu’s water quality is back to the First Nation Health Authority high standards.

“Our nation was under a drinking water advisory for weeks after the (water main) repair, and our operators with First Nation Health Authority did all they could to clean the water system, which entailed sending a robotic sub into our water tower to clean it, and flushing out our water distribution system multiple times. Working with our partners at the district and aligning our schedules for line flushing we were able to bring Hitacu’s water back to our operator’s and FNHA’s very high standards testing with our own internal lab and two third party labs in Courtenay and Vancouver,” Touchie told the Westerly in an email.

Macintosh said the flushing is “preparatory work” for the upcoming $20.7 million water treatment and capacity upgrades.

RELATED: Water, water everywhere and not a drop for free: Ucluelet’s water treatment upgrade costs double


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