Comox Valley boil water advisory enters fourth week

Upgrading intake system to include filtration would cost up to $70 million

  • Jan. 5, 2015 8:00 p.m.

Scott Stanfield

Record Staff

The boil water advisory that was issued nearly a month ago due to elevated turbidity levels remains in effect for residents connected to the Comox Valley water system.

Turbidity refers to fine suspended particles picked up by water as it passes through streams and rivers in a watershed. Turbidity levels are not dropping as rapidly as usual since a recent storm system hammered the Valley. Elevated levels may interfere with disinfection and reduce the available chlorine residual that inactivates any harmful bacteria.

The advisory was first issued Dec. 11.

Nothing can be done to accelerate the settling process as it is a naturally occurring phenomenon in Comox Lake, from where the drinking water originates. Water passes through an intake at the BC Hydro penstock. It gets chlorinated and enters reservoirs.

“Part of the problem is that we don’t have filtration,” said Dave Leitch, senior manager of water and wastewater services at the regional district. “Island Health has a guideline for turbidity, and we’re exceeding it.”

The district plans to forward recommendations to the CVRD board on options that would include a filtration system and cost, which would likely run in the $50 million to $70 million range.

Nanaimo recently constructed a water treatment plant for about $65 million.

The CVRD is working with Island Health to monitor the situation. Testing of water samples is completed daily.

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

More information on boil water advisories 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