The Comox Lake reservoir provides some of the best drinking water anywhere in B.C., but even at that, there have been numerous boil water advisories over the years in the Comox Valley.
“They started in October 2014 and we had roughly 140 days of boil water notice,” said Mike Herschmiller, Manager of Water Services at the Comox Valley Regional District.
With every big fall storm that stirred up the lake, a boil water advisory was sure to follow and everyone on the system in Courtenay, Comox, the K’omoks First Nation and areas of the Regional district were affected by it.
“It was super tough on the residents and the businesses in the area so yeah it was really frustrating and thankfully now we will not see anymore turbidity-related boil water notices,” said Herschmiller.
That’s because construction on a brand new regional $126-million water filtration plant and deepwater intake in Comox Lake is complete and freshly filtered water is now running through the system.
“What happened now is we’re actually treating the water through sand filtration and so what that does is take all those particles that otherwise could be harmful to us or hide things that are harmful to us and cleans those out,” said Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells.
A major player in getting the facility built was the local K’omoks First Nation, which has enjoyed water from the regional system for decades — unlike many First Nations across Canada that boil water or truck in fresh drinking water every single day.
“You look at all the struggles across Canada with First Nations not having clean drinking water and we’re very fortunate to be in an urban setting and have that ability but my mind is always on those communities that don’t,” said K’omoks Chief Nicole Rempel.
“Water is life and to have the reassurance that our water supply is high quality and safe is amazing,” said Wendy Morin, Water Committee Chair.
The new plant does not mean the end of summer water restrictions as water conservation bylaws have not changed.