Waterworks in Coquitlam

An ultra-violet disinfection facility — like this one at the Seymour watershed in North Vancouver — will be built this summer at the Coquitlam watershed. - BLACK PRESS FILE PHOTO
An ultra-violet disinfection facility — like this one at the Seymour watershed in North Vancouver — will be built this summer at the Coquitlam watershed.
— image credit: BLACK PRESS FILE PHOTO

Construction of an ultra-violet disinfection plant will begin at the Coquitlam watershed this summer as Metro Vancouver works to comply with new federal water guidelines.

The $110-million project will improve disinfection to fight cryptosporidium, a parasite that can naturally enter the watershed through the feces of animals. When consumed by humans, the parasites can cause gastrointestinal illnesses.

“What we are doing is adding one primary treatment process,” said Inder Singh, an engineer with Metro Vancouver. “There will be a second disinfection barrier for parasites in the form of ultra-violet.”

The new plant will also provide Metro Vancouver with a maintenance and operations centre and water testing laboratory for the Lower Mainland’s three major water sources, Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam.

The UV disinfection process is the latest upgrade to the Coquitlam Lake source, which provides more than 350 million litres of potable water, making up a third of the region’s supply.

In 2000, an ozonation program was added to improve disinfection for viruses and giardia, a waterborne parasite that can cause intestinal illnesses. Chlorination is also used as a secondary disinfection process.

Until the project is completed in 2013, Singh said residents face a slim chance of ingesting small amounts of cryptosporidium, although the amounts are so minimal that it is unlikely to cause any harm. The UV disinfection system, he added, will add redundancies to a system that already provides high-quality water.

“It is a very low risk mainly because our watershed is protected,” he said. “The federal guidelines are proactive.”

When the project is completed, Singh said all of the Lower Mainland’s water sources will comply with the federal Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.

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