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RMOW assesses water system for cross connections

Private operators will be contacted until October
Water Works The RMOW is assessing Whistler's water system, hopeful to eliminate instances of backflow from cross-connections. Photo courtesy of RMOW

In an effort to maintain the high standards of Whistler's drinking water, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is in the process of implementing a Cross Connection Control Program (CCCP).

"Not only is it necessary, but it is required," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden of the program. "It's a condition to our permit to operate our water supply."

The program is designed to eliminate connections between the drinking water system and other water sources, such as pools or irrigation systems.

When water from alternate sources flows backwards into a drinking water source, it's known as backflow, which is what the RMOW is trying to eliminate. From now until October, a contractor with the RMOW will be assessing the water connection systems of all industrial, commercial and institutional operators in Whistler.

"They'll receive various recommendations on how to make sure that their internal water systems are safe both for the occupants of whatever their building is, but also for their neighbours to ensure that there's no backflow," Wilhelm-Morden said.

Once the assessment is done, it will be up to operators to install a backflow prevention device.

The assessment itself will be conducted by Maintenance Tracking Systems Inc., and paid for by the RMOW through a successful Gas Tax application worth $178,000.

While private operators are at the highest risk of backflow contamination, residential homeowners may also need to install a backflow prevention device if their home contains a hot tub, irrigation system or mechanical boiler.

The RMOW is considering an assessment program for residential operators, but "it's just in the contemplation stages at this point," Wilhelm-Morden said.

Drinking water in Whistler is of a natural high quality, requiring only disinfection before being delivered to the community.

"We have a neutral pH, we have low turbidity, and then of course, it just tastes fantastic," Wilhelm-Morden said.

The CCCP is just another step to ensuring Whistler's high standards of drinking water are met for years to come.

"There's a significant program that we have that is multi-faceted," Wilhelm-Morden said.

"We're in a program right now for replacing some of the water mains in some of the older subdivisions that have deteriorated over the years so that the delivery system of the excellent water continues to be maintained."

The RMOW is also looking at some of its water sources, specifically Rainbow Creek, to make sure users in the area aren't contaminating the water supply.

"So there are a myriad of things that we do with our water supply and delivery system every year," Wilhelm-Morden said.