Boil water advisory enters second month

“Glacial silt and debris and sand” the source of turbidity

  • Jan. 12, 2015 12:00 p.m.

Scott Stanfield

Record Staff

A month has passed since the Comox Valley Regional District issued a boil water advisory. The problem is elevated levels of turbidity in Comox Lake, referring to suspended particles picked up by water as it passes through streams and rivers in a watershed.

“It’s basically glacial silt and debris and sand,” said Mike Herschmiller, the CVRD’s manager of water services. “It is from the bottom of the lake, as well as from the sides of the tributary rivers.”

He notes dirty water had come into Perseverance Creek on the Cumberland side, which led officials to believe there had been a slide in the area.

After the recent storm, Herschmiller also notes Comox Lake was the same temperature at the surface as it was at 30 metres.

“Which means that it probably did stir up a lot of silt that was on the bottom of the lake. We had very similar turbidity readings from top to bottom. The temperature was a telltale thing. We do temperature testing, and there’s always quite a variance.”

A recent log cleanup at the mouth of the reservoir is not connected with the advisory.

“That was BC Hydro’s log boom that had stopped a bunch of logs that had come down from the canyon, from the Cruikshank, from Perseverance,” Herschmiller said. “Wind will blow logs on the lake edge. Because it was so high, it brought in all that loose debris.”

Some of the logs appeared to have been in the lake for a lengthy period of time; others were new.

“We are dropping so slowly,” Herschmiller said of the turbidity levels. “We’re not even probably a .1 a day ntu.”

The level was 1.51 Monday morning. Saturday was 1.6. The safety level is one, or very close to it.

“We are definitely dropping, but it is taking a long, long time. It’s been a rough go. We hope this thing ends.”

The advisory is in place largely because the risk is elevated for those with compromised immune systems.

Users are advised to boil water for one minute at a rolling boil.

More information is available at The CVRD’s Facebook and Twitter pages are updated at least once a day with the latest information on the advisory. Visit and


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