Water Quality & Testing

How does Metro Vancouver ensure that the water we provide is safe and clean?

Multi-barrier Approach

Metro Vancouver uses a multi-barrier approach to ensuring high quality water. This includes protected watersheds, water treatment, and maintenance of water quality in the system. A monitoring program is in place across the entire system to ensure the water is safe and clean from the treatment facilities through the distribution system to our customers, the municipalities.

Daily Drinking Water Testing by Metro Vancouver

Metro Vancouver conducts daily tests on our drinking water—analyzing around 35,000 water samples each year. Results are public and found in annual Water Quality Control reports.

Volume 1 uses data summaries and graphics to highlight water quality issues, and Volume 2 provides chemical and physical monitoring results (actual data), including numerous water quality parameters with potential health effects.

Data Collection and Water Testing in the Watersheds

Metro Vancouver operates monitoring sites throughout the watersheds. These monitoring sites gather data on weather conditions, precipitation, river levels, reservoir storage, snowpack, and wildfire indicators. Learn more about how Metro Vancouver takes care of the watersheds.

Additional Testing by your Municipality

Municipalities that purchase water wholesale from Metro Vancouver and deliver it to residents and businesses also test for water quality regularly. Check with your municipality if you want to see a water quality report.

Common Questions About your Drinking Water

 

 

Chlorine and OdoursChlorine and Odours1<div class="ExternalClassD9B5FA1131894ECD99BCCFE7E5E1FC63"><div class="panel"><h4>Temporarily Increased Chlorine Levels </h4><p>As British Columbia re-opens in accordance with <a href="https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/bc-restart-plan" target="_blank">BC’s Restart Plan</a>, Metro Vancouver is doing its part to ensure the delivery of clean, safe drinking water to the region.</p><p>Recognizing that many buildings or businesses have been unoccupied for some time, Metro Vancouver has temporarily increased chlorine levels to assist with flushing stagnant water and introducing fresh chlorinated water into premises plumbing. This is a precautionary measure in accordance with guidance from the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA). If your building or business is re-opening, please follow the <a href="https://cwwa.ca/covid-19-and-the-re-opening-of-buildings/#download" target="_blank">CWWA’s guidelines </a>for maintaining the safety of water within your building.</p><p>The temporary measure will continue until the majority of businesses able to re-open have resumed operations. Tap water may have a chlorine odour during this time, and it remains safe to drink. Daily drinking water testing remains in effect throughout the region to ensure water quality. </p></div><p>Some homes are closer to the re-chlorination stations, and some residents are more sensitive to the odour from the chlorine added in the water treatment process. Chlorine is a gas, and it leaves the water quickly when exposed to air. Try putting a jug of tap water in the fridge to keep cold. You should notice that any chlorine odour disappears very quickly.</p></div>
Our Water is Soft. What Does That Mean?Our Water is Soft. What Does That Mean?2<div class="ExternalClassC4BBD31A9D6B49769F482090C569341C"><p>​Our water source is rain and snowmelt; since it doesn’t spend a lot of time stored in rocks it has low mineral content. Cities with hard water usually source their water from rivers that have a lot of minerals, or have granite groundwater reservoirs. To adjust the alkalinity and keep the pH level stable, Metro Vancouver adds lime and carbon dioxide (at the Seymour Capilano Filtration Plant) or sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide (at the Coquitlam Water Treatment Plant). These additives in no way impact the flavour or safety of our drinking water.</p><p>For bathing and washing, soft water means that a little soap goes a long way. But not everyone realizes that, and residents tend to use more soap than necessary. The good news is you can get clean while saving money on soap and helping the environment by using less. <a href="/services/liquid-waste/preventing-problems-pipes/soaps-detergents/">Read more.</a></p></div>
Is There Lead in our Drinking Water?Is There Lead in our Drinking Water?3<div class="ExternalClassA6F0BC3F5BF84288B5EB9E20FB8586B1"><p>​Metro Vancouver’s source and treated water lead levels are below the guideline of 0.005 milligrams per litre (ppm). Lead contamination can result from corrosion of plumbing materials in older buildings or neighbourhoods. Replacing old plumbing and employing corrosion control as a part of source water treatment are the most effective solutions. </p><p>Metro Vancouver’s drinking water treatment includes pH adjustment to reduce potential pipe corrosion. This treatment reduces metals from leaching into the water from older municipal or household pipes that may contain lead. </p><p>Municipalities in Metro Vancouver regularly sample their water for various parameters including lead, and elevated lead levels have not been detected.</p></div>
Is Fluoride Added to our Drinking Water?Is Fluoride Added to our Drinking Water?4<div class="ExternalClass54292A8A144F443B982493DB69C7426F"><p>Fluoride is not added to Metro Vancouver’s drinking water. There is a natural level of less than 0.05mg/ L. Fluoridated toothpaste or fluoride drops are readily available as additional sources of fluoride.</p></div>