Is any amount of Arsenic, Manganese, Chloramine and other chemicals safe in your water? An Interview with Dennis Lypka.

UBC Associate Professor Dr. Trevor Drummer, of the Cancer Prevention Centre at UBC, was in White Rock on July 26th, and used data and facts to show evidence that drinking White Rock water with high levels of arsenic poses a health risk. He added that in his opinion, he would not drink White Rock water with high arsenic levels, and believes that the current Health Canada Guideline needs to be reduced.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin has been quoted in the paper as saying “The arsenic does occasionally pop up, not from the whole system, but from one or two wells,” Baldwin said. “If it blends with the rest of the water, it’s OK, it’s not an issue.”

Mayor Baldwin says that IF this high arsenic water blends with the rest of the water, then it’s ok. What he failed to mention is that the city currently has no way to blend water in a controlled way to reduce arsenic levels. Listen to facts, not political spin.

Rather than listen to facts, Politicians provide Alternative-Facts that make themselves look good by minimizing the perception of health risks, while doing nothing to eliminate the risks themselves. Who do you believe?

How much Arsenic, Manganese, Chloramine and other chemicals is too much to be safe in your water? Dennis Lypka, one of the founding members of the White Rock Safe Water Alliance, discusses our water and health risks in the following interview.

White Rock’s Brown Drinking Water could have been avoided if City Hall had listened to Fraser Health in 2013

Residents have been told that their brown water is caused by pipes within their own building, but does anyone think it is credible that hundreds of different buildings would simultaneously have the same brown water issue independently. Neither do we!

The city has received well over 500 complaints about brown water.  Seems far more likely that the City is at fault. What is in this water, and is it safe to drink? It is time to call Fraser Health and demand that we find out what is in our water and what they are going to do about cleaning it up. Fraser Health needs to make Mayor Baldwin and City Council clean up our drinking water now, by connecting us up to Vancouver Metro water as Fraser Health recommended in 2013. You can read about Fraser Health’s recommendation here.

Read what the Peace Arch News is saying about our dirty White Rock water here.

Brown Water once again in Coldicutt Area

Manganese and Your Health

The brown  water seen in many of our taps in White Rock is often caused by high levels of Manganese from our well water. When the city chose to add Chlorine to our water, as mandated by Fraser Health, this caused the Manganese to precipitate out, causing muddy brown water. Adding chlorine is the recommended way to get rid of Manganese, combined with filtering at the water pumping site. White Rock city council has chosen not to do filtering at this time, so this unfiltered mess finds it’s way into our homes. If you receive your water from the Oxford well, your water is likely high in Manganese. If your water comes from another well such as Merklin, your Manganese levels will be lower and your water clear. Which well do you get your water from?

More Arsenic or More Maganese

What is White Rock City Hall doing about the high levels of Manganese?
To hide this brown mess, White Rock decided to add ammonia in the form of Chloramine to the water. This only hides the Manganese, it is still in your water, now combined with Chloramine. While low levels of Manganese is only considered a cosmetic problem, higher amounts have been linked to Health Canada has linked higher levels to health problems such as impairment of cognitive brain function and lower IQs in children.

So is Chloramine the best solution for Whiter Whites? 
No! Chloramine hides the Manganese but creates ever bigger problems!

Chloramine corrodes older pipes, leaching lead into drinking water .
Lead in drinking water is a serious health problem. Chloramine can cause the lead in older pipes to leach into drinking water. You can read more about the affects of Chloramine at the Chloramine Info Center.

Chloramine kill Marine Life
While Chlorine in tap water dissipates and has only short term impact on marine life, Chloramine run-off does not dissipate and is deadly to salmon and marine life. While many cities use Chloramine, cities near environmentally sensitive marine environments do not. Vancouver and Surrey both stopped using it after salmon runs were devastated in nearby creeks by the chloramine.

At the January 11 2016 Council Meeting, Mayor Baldwin voted against the use of Chloramine due to risks to salmon in the Campbell River on Semiahmoo First Nation land:

Mayor Baldwin: “it is not acceptable for us to allow chloraminated water to go into the Campbell River which is part of the Semiahmoo First Nations traditional grounds it is their water in essence. And it is disrespectful, it would be disrespectful to do that, to create an environmental situation in their traditional grounds.”

How does Manganese affect your health?
In a 2010 assessment by Health Canada, while exposure to small amounts of Manganese is considered safe, long-term exposure to “moderate levels of exposure can result in worsening of subclinical neurological function including fine motor control, tremor, memory and cognitive ability”, especially if inhaled (as in a shower). A 2011 study published in the journal “Environmental Health Perspectives” concluded that “exposure to manganese at levels common in groundwater is associated with intellectual impairment in children”.

How much Manganese is safe, and how much is too much?
Health Canada, in its 2016 report, stated that the maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) for drinking water is 0.1 mg/L, while the MAC for aesthetics is 0.02 mg/L. White Rock sets the Guideline limit of 0.05 mg/L.

Several of the City’s wells exceeded the guideline limit for Manganese in the latest posted March 2017 water metal test results:
Water Test Results - March 2017 - Highlighted
As reported in the PAN on July 21st 2016 here:

Manganese levels for May show the Merklin Low Reservoir registering 0.119 mg. per litre, the Stevens sample station at 0.112, the Roper PVR at 0.111 and the Russell Avenue sample station at 0.109 – all more than twice the guideline maximum level of 0.05 mg/L – all more than twice the guideline maximum level of 0.05 mg/L.

Health Canada also indicates that inhaled Manganese is a concern, and should be limited to 0.05 micrograms/cubic meter according to this 2010 Health Canada report “Human Health Risk Assessment for Inhaled Manganese“. So if your water is very high in Manganese, you may want to avoid showers and take baths instead.

What is White Rock doing about this?

The city is planning on spending $14M on treatment plants at Oxford and Merklin sites, with an annual operating and maintenance cost of $400k/year. These plants will not be ready until at least 2019, one year after the next election. Is this money well spent or is it too little too late?

What do we think White Rock should do?
To us, the answer is clear. As recommended by Fraser Health back in 2013, we beleive White Rock should connect up to clean and safe Vancouver City water. In the long run, it is cheaper and safer as it is managed by Vancouver by a large team of water quality professions. White Rock’s well water has too many problems, and it is too expensive to fix them all within our small city by the Sea.

Chloramine Info Center

The City is adding Chloramine to help get rid of problems with brown water experienced by many White Rock Residents. But is this the best solution for Whiter Whites? 

Chloramine hides the Manganese but creates ever bigger problems!

Chloramine is deadly to Marine Life!
Surrey stopped using Chloramine after it killed all the salmon in nearby creeks. Chloramine is deadly to marine life. Mayor Baldwin back in the January 11th 2016 Council Meeting rejected Chloramine due to its potential impact on Salmon in nearby Campbell River on the Semiahmoo First Nations land.

How does Chloramine affect your health
Chloramine corrodes older pipes, leaching lead into drinking water. Lead in drinking water is a serious health problem. Chloramine can cause the lead in older pipes to leach into drinking water. You can read more about the affects of Chloramine and how it affected the residents of Flint Michigan at the Chloramine Info Center.

Chloramine Information Center

Chloramine in our drinking water?

Please join the White Rock Safe Water Alliance. Help us make sure that White Rock residents can have safe water to drink. Due to over 500 complaints of brown muddy water, the city is reversing last year’s promise, and now adding Chloramine to your drinking water. Your water may look cleaner, but it now contains even more chemicals in it. Chloramine is known to leach lead out of existing pipes, and is also deadly to marine life as was seen when Surrey tried to introduce Chloramine several years ago. The Chloramine decimated the salmon fry in nearby creeks. If Surrey decided adding Chloramine was a mistake for them, can Chloramine be a good choice for White Rock?
No Chloramine
Fraser Health told us that they prefer that White Rock should be connected to Vancouver City water through Surrey. Later, Fraser Health met with City Councillors in a meeting closed to the public, where Fraser Health insisted that the Peace Arch Hospital be connected to GVRD water to ensure that the hospital had access to safe clean drinking water in the event of a similar fire that occurred in Five Corners last May 19th, when the top 3 floors of the hospital had no water, and a Boil Water Advisory was mandated soon afterwards.

If our water is not good enough for the Peace Arch Hospital, is it good enough for you? 
Public Upset about Chloramine on May 1st City Council Meeting

White Rock Council Approves Adding Chloramine to your Tap Water, ignoring Health and Environmental Impacts

Despite some raucous vocal opposition from a number of the Public in attendance, White Rock Council unanimously endorsed proceeding ahead with Chloramination of White Rock water at tonight’s Council Meeting.

Greg St. Louis had Dr. Saad Jasim, the Ph.D utility manager, give some mumbo-jumbo presentation with lots of dry, unintelligible data, graphs and excerpts from reports which were not cited or footnoted.

Dan Bottrill spun a few yarns, crowed indignantly about the City’s transparency on the water utility and acted as if the knowledge that ammonia existed naturally in White Rock well water was some new, previously unknown profound revelation.

Not true!

EPCOR knew about this all along and if you look at Greg St. Louis’s Report of December 14, 2015 (found here),  which was his first attempt to chloraminate White Rock water, this is plainly stated in the last paragraph of page 26. But Council who spoke suggested tonight that this was all brilliant news to them.   

Dan Bottrill was reminded that the City knew about this at least as early as May of 2015 when a secret meeting was held between EPCOR,  Fraser Health and the City to secretly all sign off to make the switch from Chlorine to Chloramine. Throughout its TWQM Project, EPCOR swore up and down that Chlorine, not Chloramine was the best disinfectant for White rock water. But apparently,  EPCOR’s consultants had made some boo boos on the White Rock well water quality. I guess they miscalculated the manganese. EPCOR did bench tests in April 2015 which showed that  Chloramine brought “whiter whites”. This, no doubt was presented at the secret May 2015 EPCOR, Fraser Health and city of White Rock meeting.

The City slyly out of nowhere used this “whiter whites” pitch it in their October 15, 2015 “Water Utility Community Forum”, some material from which can be found here:

I have scanned the city’s Chloramine Brings Whiter Whites sheet from Oct 15, 2015 Water Utility Community Forum here. Note that the date of the “bench scale tests” is April 2015, long before the City consummated its water utility purchase deal on August 28, 2015.

So that is the City’s gimmick. “Ammonia is already in the water naturally, so why not add pails more if it can mask and conceal the high level of manganese in the system to make the water look better than what it really is”.  Personally, there is a world of difference to me between dealing with naturally occurring ammonia (it is higher at the Merklin wells than it is at the Oxford wells) and adding pails of it in concentrated chemical form to the water.
[Editor’s Note: It is dishonest to suggest that because trace amounts of a substance is already in the water, that adding more is ok. Trace amounts of arsenic are required for the body to function, but adding much more arsenic to your drinking glass can kill you. Similarly, your blood is composed of thousands of chemicals many of which, when taken in excess, can be harmful. Click on the picture below for more details. Science – When Used Properly, Reduces the Stupid!]

Blood Components - Science. It reduces the stupid

Neither Dr. Jasim, Dan Bottrill nor anyone on Council discussed any of the “disadvantages” of Chloramine. No one mentioned even the disadvantages of Chloramine that St. Louis noted on page 27 of his December 14, 2015 Report – “impacts to the environment… toxic to fish and amphibians….does not dissipate by standing or boiling”. So there was not one mention or concerns expressed about any possible adverse health affects to humans, how it is less effective than chlorine on certain viruses and bacteria, how it  leaches metals like lead from pipes and pits piping more, how it impacts rubber fitting in plumbing and so forth and so forth.

It was quite an orchestrated event, craftily although obviously played out and no doubt this was the previous topic of more than one secret Council meeting.

Rally updates will follow.

One suggested option is to Chloramine Rally hold  in conjunction with the City’s 60th Birthday Party on April 29 at the Centennial Arena which takes place between 11am to 9pm.

More later.

 Dennis, Member of the White Rock Safe Water Alliance

 Dennis against Chloramine

City Council Reverses its Decision to Add Chloramine to White Rock Water!

An interesting day today. About 175 people braved the cold to rally at City Hall at noon to protest the intended use of Chloramine in our water. Thank you to all who were able to attend.

This evening, Fraser Health made a presentation to City Council on water disinfectants, after which all six Councillors and the Mayor discussed the Chloramine vs Chlorine topic before a Council Chambers packed by the Public that overflowed into the lobby.

At the end of the lengthy discussion, Councillor Lawrence made a motion to seek a time limit extension from Fraser Health to extend the June 1, 2016 deadline for a water disinfectant to enable the City to get in place an Arsenic and Manganese Reduction /Removal Plant. As the second part of the motion, Chlorine, NOT Chloramine, is to be used as the water disinfectant in the interim. All seven people on Council voted in favour of this motion.

While time will tell what sort of latitude Fraser Health will allow, thank you to all who helped ensure that White Rock City Council took a second look at Chloramine.


[Editor’s note – Read more about the Rally in the Peace Arche news here: ]

Andrew on Bridge

White Rock Residents say Whoa! to Chloramine in drinking water!

Read the Jan 7th background story in the Province by Jennifer Saltman

Is there a Safe Alternative to Chloramine in our Water?

Is there an alternative to chemically treating our water that is safe for both people and the Environment?

Both EPCOR and Fraser Health recommended the use of Chlorine, not Chloramine in our drinking water in2013. Chlorine is a safe chemical additive that has been scientifically proven safe for long-term consumption, while Chloramine has not. Now the city is claiming that Chloramine is safe, but where is the science to back that up. It does not exist.

Instead, they will quote that many cities use Chloramine. This is not science. But those cities do not live on a Environmentally sensitive Salmon hatchery area. Remember that we were once all told that Asbestos was safe too. We need science, not vacuous assurances from a Mayor with no expertise in Chemistry or health.

While Chlorine is preferable to Chloramine, it’s not a World-Class solution.

Many large cities in North America and Europe use no chemicals at all. Two communities in the U.S. that are using granulated activated charcoal (GAC) instead of chloramine are Grand Isle Vermont and Charlottesville Virginia.

The high levels of Arsenic and Manganese in our water can be efficiently and cheaply removed through sand filtration at our Water Plant.

Modern Best-Practices can be found in Europe where they use high-tech micro-filters to remove all pathegens without chemicals, resulting in pure chemical-free and delicious safe drinking water.

Why is nobody at City Hall researching these safe alternatives?

Is Chloramine Safe?

The health issues caused by Chloramine added to tap water has been known for a long time and people such as San Francisco’s Citizens Concerned About Chloramine have an excellent website with lots of expert information about it and its impact on your health.
 Citizens Concerned About Chloramine
Chloramine was tried in Vancouver and Surrey, resulting in the salmon in Fergus Creek being wiped out by two small spills. In White Rock, EPCOR had about 10 small spills a year. What will this do to wildlife at our beach?
Chloramine use is banned in 99% of Europe, large areas of the US, and was quickly discontinued in Surrey after numerous water spills and breaks in the lines.
Mayor Baldwin says that he is comfortable with Chloramine, but are you? He also said that Garbage privitizarion and its increased service fees were a good thing, that the hump needed to be clearcut, and that the Regional Growth Strategy was legally binding on White Rock (which it is not). Why should we trust Mayor Baldwin’s opinion on this when EPCOR themselves had recommended Chlorine over Chloramine?
 Is your tap water safe - cropped
Don’t take anyone’s word on this. Get informed and be heard. Read more about the CCAC here:

The use of Chloramine and the Potential for Damage to Aquatic Life


White Rock City Hall
15322 Buena Vista Ave,
White Rock, BC V4B 1Y6
January 5, 2016

Mayor: Wayne Baldwin and Council

Re: The use of Chloramine and the Potential for Damage to Aquatic Life

As you may know, on October 17, 1989 and July 9, 1990 there occurred two breaks in Surrey water mains that dumped chloramine-laced water into the Fergus Creek, which is a sub catchment of the Little Campbell River (LCR). The extreme damage to fish and benthic invertebrates officially took almost a decade for recovery but we know some damage was permanent. In fact it is only with huge recent investments by the City of Surrey, the Department of Highways and local volunteer organizations that Fergus Creek is what it is today. Some White Rock storm water flows into the LCR, some of it via Fergus Creek.

These events were a huge wake-up call. It was because of the above-mentioned spills that the Greater Vancouver Regional District followed up on this disaster by conducting extensive public consultation and then deciding on Chlorine over Chloramine for the entire Lower Mainland. Our members have seen government at all levels deal with scheduled and unscheduled pollution and have witnessed many types of failure. We recently watched the aftermath of an accident-damaged fuel tank on a truck that had poured hundreds of gallons of diesel directly into the main stem of the Little Campbell River. Firefighters and Ministry of Environment responders showed themselves hopelessly ill prepared for such an accident with inadequate oil absorption supplies. Nobody wants these kinds of disasters to fish bearing streams and while diesel fuel is toxic, some of it will evaporate but chloramine will not.

An issue unique to White Rock is the non-point pollution aspect of chloramine. It’s common knowledge that many of the strata units in White Rock contain dedicated car washes within their concrete parkades. All water from this type of activity plus power washing of parkade slabs goes directly to the ocean through storm drains. On top of that, on-street car washing, pressure washing and a portion of the at home and strata irrigation garden watering is sent directly by storm drains to the Semiahmoo Bay. Then there are city owned automatic sprinklers especially along the waterfront that suffer breakages from time to time.
Based on many years of combined watershed experience we know that very little of the water involved in the cleaning of water mains, accidental breakage of water mains, and admittedly the rare event of firefighting will ever be effectively treated to neutralize the chloramine in the water. It is a fact that chloramine run-off from water hydrants or broken mains that enter storm drains, streams, and rivers, endangers the lives of fish, amphibians, water invertebrates, and other sensitive marine animals.

There is a significant amount of evidence that identifies “vacated” and “dead” zones in marine areas adjacent to inhabited areas that use chloramine. Of course people will say that’s correlation not causation, as no one will underwrite the necessary science. The data gaps are still huge, but the people that know those areas still know what they know and chloramine is suspect.

Chloramine, which is an extremely persistent compound, is a dangerous substance in water and has been locally proven to destroy fish and benthic organisms in rivers and streams and has the potential to destroy sea life close to the ocean outfalls in Semiahmoo Bay.

The Semiahmoo First Nations once relied on the abundance of sea life in Semiahmoo Bay but over the years point and non-point pollution reduced the tens of thousands of fish available to them to just a few hundred. The abundant clams and other molluscs, which were once available all year around, were polluted too. Even the crab fishing has been diminished and here we have the City of White Rock wanting to pollute the ocean with another toxic pollutant.

The Canadian EPA ruled chloramine “toxic” as defined in Section 64 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, as a result of a study assessing the impact of chloraminated water discharges entering the environment, particularly on fish.

Research states that chloramine must be filtered out before it reaches bodies of water. Does White Rock really have a tested, comprehensive plan to do this and will there be a surcharge for Chloramine contaminated sewage being sent to the wastewater treatment plants in Metro before being dumped into the Gulf of Georgia?

Will you be engaging and consulting in a comprehensive review on this issue of Chloramine in the drinking water like the GVRD in the early 1990’s?

Please know that we are completely opposed to chloramine being used in White Rock water and will advocate in every possible venue against it.

There was a time when the citizens of White Rock were proud and boasted of their pure drinking water and people from miles around would come and drink the water and remark on how wonderful and different the water tasted right from the tap. It was not unusual for visitors to take jugs of water home. We understand there is a complex and changing regulatory environment. We also believe that introducing chloramine into this once pristine water supply has the potential for causing many unintended consequences.

Phillip Milligan
Little Campbell Watershed Society
1284-184th Street, Surrey, BC V3Z 9R9

c.c. Rebecca Reid, Regional Director, Fisheries Management, DFO
c.c. Bruce Reid, Regional Oceans Manager, DFO
c.c. City of Surrey Dept. of Environment and Drainage
c.c. Semiahmoo First Nation
c.c. Drayton Harbor Shellfish Protection District
c.c. Friends of Semiahmoo Bay
c.c. Surrey Environmental Partners