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Top 11 Questions About Metro Vancouver Tap Water

April 09, 2023 4 min read

1. Is fluoride added to Metro Vancouver’s water?

Fortunately, fluoride is not added to MV tap water.

2. Is chlorine added to Metro Vancouver Tap water and, if so, why?

Yes, chlorine is added to Metro Vancouver tap water to disinfect it before it reaches your tap.

3. Why can’t I just boil my tap water instead of filtering it?

Boiling water makes sense in a third world country where the most immediate water quality concern is bacterial and microbial infection. However here in Metro Vancouver our municipalities are required by law to deliver ‘microbiologically safe’ water to your tap; that means no harmful bacteria or micro-organisms. Metro Vancouver accomplishes this by adding chlorine to your drinking water in addition to the use of UV light and ozone. So if you live in Metro Vancouver, unless there is a boil water advisory, boiling your water here is just a wasted increase to your energy bill while deadening your water and possibly concentrating the real problems which have to do with chlorination by-products and possible heavy metals.

4. What are THMs and chlorination by-products?

Chlorine is a powerful oxidizer that kills enzymes without distinguishing between the bad bacteria in your drinking water and the good bacteria in your body. It is very reactive and forms hundreds of chlorination by-products about which scientists still know very little. The two most well know groups of chlorination by-products are THMs (Trihalomethanes) and HAAs (Haloacetic acids). There are numerous studies * linking long term exposure to chlorination by-products to various cancers. We recommend choosing a drinking water filter that can reduce your exposure to these by-products as much as possible. They are difficult to remove and run-of-the-mill water filters cannot offer sustained protection from them.


5. Do I need to be concerned about pharmaceuticals in Metro Vancouver’s tap water?

Most communities around the world now get their water downstream from human activities that dump all kinds of pollutants, including pharmaceuticals, into their source water. That is why we hear so much in the media about pharmaceuticals in drinking water. Here in Metro Vancouver we are unusually fortunate because our source water is from remote mountain reservoirs located upstream and away from human activities that introduce contaminants like pharmaceuticals.

6.   Is Metro Vancouver tap water affected by radiation coming from  Fukushima?

This one is tough to answer as there is insufficient data available to clearly indicate one way or the other how we are being impacted here in Metro Vancouver. WaterMatters is asked about this issue of radioactive fallout coming from Fukushima with increasing frequency, indicating that radiation is a growing concern in the minds of Metro Vancouver residents. And rightly so, given the extremely unstable circumstances that continue at Fukushima, and even closer to us in Washington*. Common sense suggests that nuclear radiation is a very real and looming, if not immediate, threat.

Updated May 28th, 2015: We strive to stay up to date and our latest take on radiation on our coast can be found here:  with InForm playing a key role in collecting and analyzing data (more about InForm here).

Where to Find Reliable Information about Radioactivity from Fukushima
Low Levels of Fukushima Radioactivity Detected at Ucluelet, BC

Updated December 22nd, 2015: Health Canada has released (Dec 2015) a Summary Report on Fukushima Accident Contaminants in Canada and a technical report Special Environmental Radiation in Canada Report on Fukushima Accident Contaminants. Fukushima InForm has commented as follows (Dec 21st, 2015) regarding this report:

The Impact of the Fukushima on Canada: Health Canada Reports

The Columbia nuclear reactor, just 260 miles from Metro Vancouver, in Washington State is 300% less seismically qualified than it needs to be based on new earthquake studies.

7. Metro Vancouver says we have fantastic water. If it’s so great, why should I filter it?

Metro Vancouver’s SOURCE water is enviably good because it is supplied from mountain reservoirs located upstream from local industrial, agricultural and human effluent. Nature should get the credit for this. Our water treatment plants then process this ‘raw’ water to remove sediment and to make it ‘micro-biologically safe’. UV, ozone and chlorine are used to inactivate micro-organisms present in the source water that could be dangerous to human health. Chlorine is good at killing stuff. It does not distinguish between the bad organisms in water and the good organisms inside you. Chlorine also combines with organic substances to form chlorination by-products. Studies link chlorine and these by-products to various cancers. * For these reasons, filtering your tap water with a locally appropriate water filter is a really good idea.

8. Why should I use a shower filter with MV tap water?

You are more exposed to chlorine in a shower than by drinking water the same chlorinated tap water. During a chlorinated shower you inhale chlorine gas. The heat of the shower opens the pores of your skin, your largest organ, bringing chlorine in contact with your bloodstream and the interior of your body.

9. Can’t I use my shower filter to make filtered drinking water?

Absolutely not!! Unlike drinking water filters, shower filters are designed for hot water and fast flow rates. Bacteria can breed in shower heads. Shower filters are meant for external use ONLY.

10. Do I need to make my tap water more alkaline?

Making your water ‘alkaline’ does not necessarily improve your water. There is a lot of under-informed buzz these days about ‘alkaline water’ which can contain just as many health-challenging contaminants as ‘acidic water’. Nature provides us with both acid and alkaline water. Metro Vancouver’s source water is naturally acidic. Metro Vancouver’s treatment plants typically adjust the pH of our tap water up into the alkaline range. They do this to protect infrastructure (stop corrosion of water supply lines), not for health reasons. If you choose to make your drinking water more alkaline be wise about how you do so and the source of the materials that you are using to alkalize your water.

11.   Where does my tap water come from?
Metro Vancouver tap water comes from rain water and snow melt captured in three huge reservoirs located up in the Northshore Mountains: Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam reservoirs. This water is processed in a water treatment plant before being delivered to your tap. Metro Vancouver supplies tap water to these municipalities:

Bowen Island
Langley (City)
Langley (Township)
Maple Ridge
New Westminster
North Vancouver (City)
North Vancouver (District)
Pitt Meadows
Port Coquitlam
Port Moody
West Vancouver

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