The federal government might set new guidelines in 2019 on the acceptable level of manganese in drinking water, a substance that sometimes turns tap water brown.
Noting that local residents are sometimes shocked to see discoloured water emerge from their taps, the Village of Burns Lake told Lakes District News on Nov. 22 that Health Canada may next year issue a new guideline on the permitted level of manganese in water.
Manganese, a naturally occuring element is present in air, food, soil, water and even in the human body and in small amounts is harmless.
Health Canada’s current drinking water guidelines set an acceptable level of manganese in water at 0.05 milligrams per litre, which it calls an aesthetic objective.
The visible effects of a higher manganese level in water include stained laundry and plumbing fixtures. The invisible, and more harmful effects can lead to health issues.
Health effects on infants are the main concern of increased levels of manganese, especially if they’re given formula mixed with water containing high amounts of manganese, according to Health Canada.
To reduce manganese in water, the department suggests installing in-home water filtration and reverse osmosis systems.
To be proactive the Village of Burns Lake has submitted an application for a $4.8-million Canada Infrastructure Program grant towards a water treatment plant project that would cost $4.8 million.
It is hoped that the village will be informed in spring of 2019 if the application was successful.
Recent groundwater well upgrades were also part of efforts to improve the local water system, Mayor Dolores Funk said.
A work crew on Oct. 24 was upgrading the well on Gerow Island by installing new adaptors and valves.
“These works were all necessary and a part of the proposed water treatment plant engineering design,” explained Funk.
Completing the design phase “will ensure we are completely shovel ready when we apply to the next available grant,” Burns Lake director of public works Dale Ross said last year.
That was the second in a three-part phase of building the water treatment plant. Thus far the village has completed a water treatment plant pilot study, two geological studies and tests on the Gerow Island wells.
The final phase is the actual construction, which could take about one year to complete.
Funding for the project comprises about $3.5 million from the federal government grant, and around $1.2 million from the Village of Burns Lake, Lake Babine Nation and Burns Lake Band.
- With files from Flavio Nienow