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Drinking Water


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Quesnel - Drinking
Water Reservoir
Water is perhaps British Columbia’s most precious resource. It is integral to the health, vibrancy and diversity of the province as a whole. Sustainable water resource management helps protect the environment while promoting long-term socioeconomic viability. It is critical for ensuring that all British Columbians have equitable access to safe and reliable water for personal and domestic uses.

Drinking Water Quality

Protection of drinking water is legislated under the Drinking Water Protection Act which governs drinking water from source to tap. Potable water must meet the Drinking Water Protection Regulation to be deemed safe to drink and fit for domestic purposes. The health of the environment is tied directly to drinking water quality and is therefore also directly linked to public health.
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    Campbell River - Water
    Treatment Facility
    Public Health: Working together with the Ministry of Health (MoH), the Ministry of Environment (MoE) and the BC Health Authorities, the Local Government Department is committed to achieving the province’s drinking water protection goals. The Province’s Drinking Water Protection Plan provides policy and legislation established to protect the health and safety of British Columbians, while the Action Plan for Safe Drinking Water in British Columbia (973 KB) identifies a framework for action.
  • Environmental Health: Integrated watershed management is a strategy for protecting both aquatic ecosystems and drinking water sources. Watershed-based source protection represents the first layer in a "multi-barrier" approach to providing safe drinking water. Water Quality Guidelines, as well as the Groundwater Protection Regulation, have been developed to help protect natural resources and ensure that communities meet drinking water standards.

Drinking Water Infrastructure

Infrastructure renewal and expansion is a fundamental component in providing British Columbians with a dependable supply of safe drinking water. The Local Government Department supports the development of sustainable drinking water infrastructure with two types of grants: Infrastructure Planning Grants and Capital Grants. The Infrastructure Planning Grant Program provides local governments with grants up to $10,000 to study the feasibility and planning for sustainable drinking water projects. Eligible drinking water projects include, but are not limited to:
  • Business water use audits
  • Infrastructure reinvestment plans
  • Comprehensive water conservation plans
  • Integrated watershed management plans
  • Groundwater protection plans


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UV Radiation System - CRD
UV Treatment Plant
Capital Grant Programs provide partial funding to local governments for the renewal, upgrade and/or development of new drinking water infrastructure. Eligible projects may include, but are not limited to, water treatment plant upgrades, installation of water meters and distribution system upgrades. The Canada\BC Infrastructure Program has provided funding for projects such as:

Water Conservation

British Columbians consume 30% more water than the average Canadian. Though British Columbia is considered "water rich," much of this water is not directly accessible and/or costs associated with treatment and distribution are prohibitive. The perception of an endless supply of fresh water, together with pricing structures that undervalues the true cost of water, has encouraged a pattern of overconsumption and water waste.

Demand-side management is a strategy which aims to reduce water waste by using a host of polices, technologies and programs to encourage efficient water use. Effective water conservation strategies results in communities using less water to provide the same services and benefits.

Water conservation reduces water system operations and maintenance costs which saves money for end users. Reduced water demand conserves limited supplies and may enable water purveyors to defer large scale capital infrastructure projects such as reservoir expansions.


Water conservation strategies need strong education campaigns that inform users of low-flow appliances, sprinkling regulations and other demand-side conservation measures such as water metering. The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Water Conservation Plan Guidelines is a useful tool for developing community water conservation plans. The US EPA also offers useful resources on how conservation promotes cleaner water and the benefits of efficient water use.

Several British Columbian communities have developed conservation plans that incorporate water saving tips, regulations, policies and innovative technologies. Water conservation plans are now a mandatory requirement for local governments receiving capital grant funds for drinking water infrastructure. The following are examples of successful local government water conservation plans and programs:

To help promote water conservation, the provincial government has developed the following:

The Local Government Department advances provincial water conservation goals through partnerships, grant programs, policies, and by developing tools such as a water conservation calculator. The Department’s involvement with the BC Water and Waste Association’s Water Sustainability Committee has helped produce This web-based water conservation clearing house provides a host of tools and resources that encourages water conservation through all aspects of water management.

The Local Government Department works with all levels of government as well as non-government organizations to help move British Columbia towards a more sustainable approach to managing water resources.


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