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Protecting Our Drinking Water

Most of us take the safe and healthy drinking water that comes out of our taps for granted. But some B.C. communities still need to boil their water before they drink it. Sources of drinking water must be protected from the negative impacts activities can have on water.

This page will tell you about B.C. government commitments to improving the quality and protection of drinking water sources and ensuring that First Nation’s community drinking water is of the same high standards. Better protection of our drinking water sources is the easiest and cheapest way to reduce drinking water treatment costs and protect aquatic ecosystems.

In recent years, progress has been made on protecting drinking water quality. Local Health Authorities and Drinking Water Officers have better means, including stronger inspection, testing and monitoring requirements, to ensure that drinking water throughout B.C. is safe and clean. Regional Drinking Water Teams across B.C. work to ensure a coordinated approach to managing activities that could impact drinking water quality.

What is the B.C. government doing?

Improving drinking water source protection

Starting at the source is the most cost effective way to ensure safe clean drinking water comes out of our taps. Water suppliers are required to conduct source-to-tap assessments in order to plan system improvements and identify any source contamination risks that need to be fixed.

The provincial government will continue to improve the quality and protection of drinking water sources in B.C. by ensuring drinking water protection is a high priority consideration in land use and resource activity decisions.

Local water suppliers are responsible for the delivery of safe, clean drinking water but have little input into regulating activities for source watersheds. The B.C. government will explore opportunities to provide for additional input regarding activities that take place in source watersheds.

Ensuring First Nations communities have safe, clean water too

In B.C. some water systems serving First Nations communities need improvement. The B.C. government will continue to collaborate with the federal government, First Nations and Health Authorities to ensure that by 2015 the quality of drinking water in all Aboriginal communities will meet the same provincial standards applied across British Columbia.

Protecting our groundwater

Groundwater is also an important source of drinking water for British Columbians. Protecting our groundwater provides more information about what the government is doing to protect groundwater from pollution and overuse.

Did you know?

  • There are more than 4,500 water systems in B.C. that supply water to multiple connections. Approximately 3,000 drinking water systems in B.C. have fewer than 15 connections.
  • Ninety percent of the provincial population is supplied by 96 water systems operating in large municipalities.
  • Greater Vancouver and Greater Victoria’s watersheds are on privately owned land and public access to these watersheds is restricted. Watersheds for most other communities’ water supply are Crown Land where multiple land uses are permitted.
  • The laws regulating logging, mining and other land uses all contain clauses to protect drinking water sources.
Close Tooltip The source of drinking water in B.C. is the rain that falls on the land and is collected in lakes, streams and aquifers.
Close Tooltip Protection of drinking water quality on reserves is a federal government responsibility. The safe drinking water for First Nations program has more information.