Frequently Asked Questions: Water

1. Does Windermere Water & Sewer Company add fluoride to the water?

2. How is our water classified?

3. Does Windermere Water & Sewer have watering restrictions?

4. What is a Boil Water Advisory?

5. How do chemicals get into my water?

6. Who is responsible for the water line?

7. Who is responsible for the any blockages/freezing in the water line?

8. Why should I report water line problems to the Utility?

9. Who are drinking water officers (DWOs), and what can they do to protect my water?

10. Who is my drinking water health authority contact?

11. Who is responsible for making sure my water is safe?

12. My community water system is under a boil water advisory, and I have a home filter system. Do I still need to boil my water?

13. Not all authorities are consistent in their approach on requirements. Why not?

14. How do drinking water officers decide to require a boil water advisory?

15. I have concerns about my drinking water quality. Whom do I contact to address my concerns?

16. I am interested in finding out the results of drinking water quality tests that were performed on my drinking water. Can I obtain these test results and how do I go about obtaining them?

17. My water is on a boil water advisory. When will I be able to drink the water again without boiling it?

18. My water has been on a boil water advisory for a long while. Why doesn't government do anything about it?

19. Why could the water supplier required to have a cross-connection control program?

20 .Are the Ministry of Environment source-water-quality guidelines legally enforceable?

21. Besides microbiological analyses, how often does a water supplier have to do chemical analyses for their water system?

22. Should those who are immune compromised be concerned about tap water?

23. Quick Facts

1. Does Windermere Water & Sewer Company add fluoride to the water?

No.

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2. How is our water classified?

Windermere Lake water is classified as hard. The result of hard water is difficulty making lather or suds for washing and a buildup of minerals on taps and on other fixtures.

The degree of hardness in drinking water is commonly classified in terms of its calcium carbonate concentration as follows:

Hardness Rating

Concentration of
Calcium Carbonate (mg/L)

Grains of Calcium
Carbonate / Gallon

Soft

0 to 17.1

0 to 1

Slightly Hard

17.1 to 60

1 to 3.5

Moderately Hard

60 to 120

3.5 to 7

Hard

120 to 180

7.0 to 10.5

Very Hard

180 and over

10.5 and over

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3. Does Windermere Water & Sewer have watering restrictions?

In order to conserve water, Windermere Water and Parr Utilities have adopted the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) watering restrictions for the months of May through September.

We are asking that residents restrict the amount of water used for watering lawns and gardens. Watering times will be restricted to the cooler parts of the day from 6:00am - 10:00am and 7:00pm - 11:00pm on alternating days as follows:

  • Residents living in even numbered homes may water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
  • Residents living in odd numbered homes may water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

We would like to thank-you in advance for your understanding and co-operation.

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4. What is a Boil Water Advisory?

A boil water advisory is issued by public health officials when there is a concern that an event has the potential to contaminate the water supply. Boiling your water is the best way to ensure that your water is safe to drink.

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5. How do chemicals get into my water?

Many chemicals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and others, occur naturally in water in small amounts, and are not harmful to your health.

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6. Who is responsible for the water line?

The property owner is responsible for the complete line from where it exits the house to where it enters the main line in the road. This includes all maintenance activities and the replacement of the line, if required. The property owner is responsible because the Utility cannot control how a property owner maintains their line (or does not maintain it), and the fact that it is truly for private use. The Utility is responsible for the main line that runs in front of your property.

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7. Who is responsible for the any blockages/freezing in the water line?

The property owner is responsible for the blockage/freezing in the building line. Call the Utility at 250-342-6999 during regular business hours or 250-341-5763 after hours and report any problems with your line. The main line under the road will be checked by Utility staff.

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8. Why should I report water line problems to the Utility?

Property owners should report all blockages or freezing issues to the Utility. Your issues could cause damage to the main water line and other dwellings. Keeping track of property owner situations helps Utility staff maintain a working and safe water line.

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9. Who are drinking water officers (DWOs), and what can they do to protect my water?

Drinking water officers (DWOs) in the health authorities provide surveillance and monitoring of drinking water systems that may affect the public's health. They also administer and enforce the Drinking Water Protection Act, the Drinking Water Protection Regulation, and the Health Act, and intervene when necessary to minimize health and safety hazards. Drinking water officers and public health engineers from the health authorities are also the people who should be contacted prior to the creation or alteration of drinking water systems.

If you have concerns about your water supply, you can contact your drinking water health authority contact and/or your water supplier. Your drinking water health authority contact will be able to direct you to the drinking water officer working with your specific water supplier.

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10. Who is my drinking water health authority contact?

You can find out your drinking water health authority contact on the Drinking Water Health Authority Contacts website.

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11. Who is responsible for making sure my water is safe?

The ultimate responsibility for the provision of safe drinking water supplies lies with your drinking water supplier. He/she is responsible for complying with the requirements of the Drinking Water Protection Act and Drinking Water Protection Regulation and, in particular, for ensuring that water quality is monitored, and treated if necessary, and notifying the public when there is a potential or actual problem with drinking water. If you have concerns about your water supply and do not know your water supplier, contact your drinking water health authority contact, who can provide you with some assistance.

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12. My community water system is under a boil water advisory, and I have a home filter system. Do I still need to boil my water?

You may still need to boil your water depending on the particular circumstances of your water supply. Consult with your drinking water health authority contact or your drinking water officer (if you are aware of who he/she might be) to determine if your existing filtration system will suffice in addressing the potential health hazard.

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13. Not all authorities are consistent in their approach on requirements. Why not?

The Drinking Water Protection Act is outcome-based legislation, which lends itself to the adoption of different approaches to achieve required outcomes. The Drinking Water Officers' Guide (PDF 602K) outlines some principles and provides guidance to the drinking water officers in the application of the Drinking Water Protection Act. However, the decisions of DWOs cannot be prescribed in advance, and must be responsive to the situation before them.

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14. How do drinking water officers decide to require a boil water advisory?

Drinking water officers require suppliers to notify or advise their customers to boil their drinking water, or take other precautions to safeguard themselves, based on a number of factors.

Triggers for public advisories can include:

  • The presence of indicator bacteria, such as fecal coliform or E. coli in water samples.
  • Treatment failure.
  • Water main breaks.
  • Discovery of cross connections.
  • Reports of reservoir contamination.
  • Observation of waterborne disease in the community.

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15. I have concerns about my drinking water quality. Whom do I contact to address my concerns?

If you have concerns about your drinking water quality, you should discuss them with your water supplier and/or your drinking water health authority contact. Your water supplier is responsible for providing customers with information on water quality results from testing your drinking water supply.

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16. I am interested in finding out the results of drinking water quality tests that were performed on my drinking water. Can I obtain these test results and how do I go about obtaining them?

Water suppliers must make this information public in an annual report. Ask your water supplier for this information. If you do not know who supplies your drinking water, contact your local drinking water health authority contact.

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17. My water is on a boil water advisory. When will I be able to drink the water again without boiling it?

Your drinking water officer will advise the water supplier when he/she is satisfied, through appropriate testing or other safeguards that the water is safe to drink without boiling it. It is the responsibility of the water supplier to inform all users when the advisory is lifted.

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18. My water has been on a boil water advisory for a long while. Why doesn't government do anything about it?

Water supply systems may remain on a boil water advisory for an extended period of time as a result of a substantial concern with the treatment equipment or distribution infrastructure of the water supply system.

Infrastructure changes are usually quite costly and require lengthy planning before they can become operational.

The health authorities use progressive enforcement to ensure compliance with the Drinking Water Protection Act and the requirement for the provision of potable drinking water. Part of this progressive enforcement involves requiring planning information from the water supplier that demonstrates, using critical timeframes, that infrastructure and treatment upgrades are being addressed responsibly.

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19. Why could the water supplier required to have a cross-connection control program?

A water supplier can be required to have a cross-connection control program if so directed by a drinking water officer, or as part of a system assessment and response plan.

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20. Are the Ministry of Environment source-water-quality guidelines legally enforceable?

Guidelines set by the Ministry of Environment for source water quality are not required by legislation and therefore not enforceable. The intent behind the water quality guidelines  are to outline source-water-quality objectives for water sources used for a variety of purposes, of which drinking water is one such use.

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21. Besides microbiological analyses, how often does a water supplier have to do chemical analyses for their water system?

This depends on many factors, such as the source of the water, history of the water system, etc. Testing requirements are determined on a case-by-case basis by the drinking water officer, in consultation with the drinking water supplier. Depending on the nature of the source water, specific chemicals will be tested.

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22. Should those who are immune compromised be concerned about tap water?

Some people with very weak immune systems may be at higher risk of water-borne infections. See this HealthLink BC file: Drinking Water and Those with Weakened Immune Systems.

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23. Quick Facts
  • Of the world's freshwater supply, about one third is found underground.
  • Once evaporated, a water molecule spends about 10 days in the air.
  • Canada holds 20 per cent of the world's freshwater, but only has 7 per cent of the world's fresh renewable water.
  • On average, 6 per cent of Canada's urban population live in municipalities that do not provide sewage treatment.
  • Water consumption usually drops 18-25 per cent after a water meter is installed.
  • Toilets (while consuming nearly one quarter of our municipal water supply) use over 40% more water than needed.
  • Many homes lose more water from leaky taps than they need for cooking and drinking.
  • Residential indoor water use in Canada: toilet - 30 per cent, bathing and showering - 35 per cent, laundry - 20 per cent, kitchen and drinking - 10 per cent, cleaning - 5 per cent.
  • Water uses and consumption: toilet flush - 15-20L, shower (10 min.) - 100L, tub bath - 60L, automatic dishwashing - 40L, dishwashing by hand - 35L, hand washing - 8L, brushing teeth - 10L, outdoor watering - 35L/min., washing machine - 225L.

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