Interior Health Authority Protocol


Under the Safe Drinking Water Regulation of the Health Act and the new Drinking Water Protection Regulation of the Drinking Water Protection Act, all public water utilities are required to obtain a Permit to Operate from the local health authority. the regulations also allow health officials to place conditions on this operating permit that the utility must meet.

The Medical Health Officer for the Okanagan Similkameen Health Region (Now the Interior Health Authority), in consultation with many of the larger water utilities in the south west interior, developed ten conditions that all water utilities within the region with more than 300 connections must meet.

Those conditions are as follows:

The operating permit conditions were developed to clearly set the standards that must be met by the utility in the operation and distribution of the public water supply. They are:
  • Provide a certified operator to operate the system.
  • Operate according to your Water Quality Sampling Program.
  • Provide continuous on-line monitoring of the water disinfection process.
  • Perform Giardia Performance Monitoring calculations as prescribed by the Public Health Engineer.
  • Operate according to your Cross Connection Control Program.
  • Provide a Well Protection Plan for each well source.
  • Review and update the Emergency Response Plan annually.
  • Provide long-term plans for source, treatment adn distribution system improvements.
  • Report monitoring results and provide an annual summary.
The intent of these conditions is to ensure the utility is maintained and operated in a professional manner in the interest of protecting public health.

In the spring of 2006 the Interior Health Authority implemented the Turbidity Education and Notification Campaign. Scientific knowledge, technological advances, national standards, provincial regulations, regional conditions of permit and public expectations are aligned to support and promote improved drinking water quality and enhanced notification. The following considerations were key to campaign development:

Turbidity was once considered only an aesthetic concern. Science now proves that as turbidity rises, the risk of gastrointestinal illness increases as well.

Micro-organisms such as E-Coli and Cryptosporidium can attach themselves to turbidity particles and therefore be shielded from disinfection.

While turbidity might not be a concern for most people, it can pose health risks for the very young, the very old, and people with weakened immune systems (e.g. those with HIV / Aids, undergoing chemotherapy, or taking anti-rejection drugs following a transplant).

In keeping with the guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, BC's Drinking Water Protection Act, and Interior Health's 4-3-2-1-0 treatment objectives, we have a duty to educate water customers about turbidity and its associated health risks (particularly for at-risk populations), and to notify customers of turbidity levels >1 NTU as recommended in the federal guidelines.

Water Quality hasn't changed. In fact, water suppliers throughout the region are more committed than ever to providing high-quality drinking water, but turbidity testing, monitoring, reporting, and public notification requirements have changed. This campaign simply reflects increased awareness about the link between turbidity and public health.

Interior Health recognizes that these changes will challenge many unfiltered surface water systems that experience seasonal spikes in turbidity. Understanding these challenges, yet committed to improved public health protection through enhanced notification, Interior Health developed the Turbidity Education and Notification Campaign to help all water suppliers meet notification requirements in a profession, timely, and consistent manner.