« Back to News

Drinking Water FAQ - March 17, 2016

Posted on March 16, 2016



  • Our Manager of Operations & Development Services and engineers are currently reviewing options for a water conditioning system. Once an option has been selected, the Village will share this information with residents and the approximate timeline for installation
  • The 20 homes which were included in the initial sampling will be re-sampled, both pre and post flush
  • Sampling will also be taking place at the Pemberton Children's Centre, Pemberton Community Centre, Pemberton Secondary School and Signal Hill Elementary
  • The Village will also be taking samples from our water system's 12 sampling points and 2 wells
  • The Village anticipates the results will be back from the lab by March 25th
  • Staff are working with Vancouver Coastal Health to provide answers to health questions from the community
  • Staff have prepared this Frequently Asked Questions document which will be continually updated as we receive new/additional information. This document will be posted on www.pemberton.ca , the Village of Pemberton Facebook page, and in the Village eNews
  • The Village of Pemberton is hosting a Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, April 5th at 7:00 p.m. at SLRD Board Room, 1350 Aster Street (above the Fire Hall)
  • Staff are responding to community inquiries via phone, email and Facebook
  • Staff are assembling a timeline from reports and resolutions regarding Pemberton's pH levels


Q: How do I ensure my water is safe to drink?

A: The short-term solution is to flush your water before consumption. You may also consider in-home treatment options to reduce lead levels. These include: Cation (Ion) exchange, distillation, reverse osmosis, water filters with certification NSF Standard No. 53 for reduction of lead.

Q: For how long should I flush?

A: You should flush until the water runs cold. This ensures you are drinking fresh water from the Municipal supply.

Q: Can I drink water from my hot water tank?

A: We know that hot water does increase the absorption of the lead. It is recommended that you refrain from using water from your hot water tank for consumption (drinking, eating, brushing teeth) and only use water after it has been flushed.

Q: Is it safe to bathe in our water?

A: There is no health concern with bathing or washing dishes in our water because lead cannot be absorbed through the skin or inhaled. It is recommended to use flushed cold water for cooking and drinking.

Q: Why were the schools advised to flush?

A: The flushing protocol for schools throughout the region is a precautionary measure that was issued to school districts by Vancouver Coastal Health, as VCH has regulator authority to inspect schools. This procedure is not exclusive to Pemberton. School buildings are very large and therefore have lengthy piping distribution systems. The water sits in the pipes after school hours, on weekends and during vacation periods and therefore there is a greater potential for exposure to water contaminants that could be in place as a result of corrosion than is present in a private residence.

Q: How often should I flush throughout the day to ensure my water is safe to consume?

A: Absorption of lead occurs in standing water over time, such as overnight, or after a work day. If in question, flush your water.

Q: What are the long-term effects of drinking water with low pH?

A: Drinking low pH water has no impact on health. In the case of Pemberton's water, the issue is what is leached into the water due to corrosivity caused by lower pH.

Q: What is the risk level for those who may have consumed the water?

A: The risk is negligible for young children and adults with normal household use of water. If you occasionally get a mouthful of first flush water that is above 10 parts/billion that is not a concern. The Guidelines for Canadian Drinking specify 10 parts/billion; these guidelines are based on a lifetime of exposure at that level.

Q: Does lead get absorbed into plants and food from watering your garden, or washing food such as strawberries if you happen to use the first flush to wash them?

A: Most of the lead in food comes through cooking as the water is heated; the lead in water would be absorbed in the food through the cooking process.



Q: What plumbing components are subject to lead leaching?

Lead may be leached from lead solder in plumbing, or plumbing fittings, faucets, valves and fixtures.

Q: Why did we switch from a surface water source to a ground water source?

A: The surface water, sourced from Pemberton Creek, did not meet VCH's microbiological disinfection standards, and incidentally has similarly low pH as our current ground source. Pemberton Creek is highly turbid due to glacial melt and the required filtration treatment to make it safe to drink would be millions of dollars. Finding an alternate source in town was deemed to be the better direction.

Q: If our current water has now corroded our pipes, fittings or fixtures, won't there still be leaching even if we've adjusted the pH?

A: The VOP is investigating options to adjust the pH, alkalinity and hardness of the water. Once properly adjusted the water is expected to be chemically stable and leaching should be negligible.

Q: What is the timeline for the installation of a water treatment system?

A: The Village is currently working with its engineers to determine the best system. This is the highest priority for Council and Staff and we are working to have the system up and running as soon as possible. Further updates on timelines will be shared the community as they become available.

Q: When will the Village of Pemberton be retesting the water?

A: The Village will be resampling the same 20 properties, as well the the Pemberton & District Community Centre, Pemberton Children's Centre, and Pemberton Health Centre, Municipal well sources and 11 sampling stations over the next couple of weeks. We anticipate that the Village will receive the results by March 25, 2016. Once the results have been interpreted, we will share this information with the community.

Q: What training does Village of Pemberton staff have to operate a water system?

A: The Village Of Pemberton is required to have one certified Level II Water System Operator, certified by the Environmental Operators Certification Program as a Multi-Utility Level II Water Distribution Operator; fortunately VOP have 3 certified operators on staff with numerous years of experience.

Q: How can I find out how we got to where we are today? Is there a comprehensive history that I can review?

A: Staff are currently reviewing reports and assembling a timeline. As soon as this is complete, we will share it with the community.

Download the Frequently Asked Questions Document



Get updated with our newsletter