(Alex Browne photo) White Rock utilities manager Dr. Saad Jasim spoke to the Peace Arch Rotary Club’s luncheon meeting Monday in a broad-ranging talk that addressed global water issues.

White Rock water plant operational by month’s end

Utilities manager’s talk to Peace Arch Rotary also covers global water issues

White Rock manager of utilities Dr. Saad Jasim told Peace Arch Rotary Club Monday that the city’s new water treatment plant may be ready to be fully operational before the end of the month.

“Things are going well,” said Jasim, guest speaker at the club’s luncheon at Hazelmere Golf and Tennis Club.

“We’re looking at putting the plant online by the end of next week,” he said, adding that contractors have been working around the clock during a final phase of plant testing and post-construction clean-up at the Goggs Avenue site.

The close to $15 million project (of which almost $12 million was paid for by federal and provincial grants) is to use a combination of technologies, including an ozone process to ‘adsorb’ arsenic and Greensand Plus to filter out manganese deposits.

The plant has been designed to keep arsenic levels in White Rock water to an objective of two micrograms-per-litre, 95 per cent of the time (below the maximum allowable concentration of 10 micrograms stipulated by Health Canada), and reduce manganese to less than 10 micrograms-per-litre, less than the 20-microgram-per-litre esthetic objective contemplated by Health Canada (the current esthetic objective is 50 micrograms-per-litre).

Jasim, who formerly headed the Walkerton Clean Water Centre in Ontario that addressed water problems in that community following the infamous E. coli outbreak in 2000, was speaking to the club to mark the UN’s World Water Day (observed on March 22).

An international advocate of ozone treatment of water long spearheaded by France (he is president-elect of the International Ozone Association) Jasim noted that, outside of Quebec, the only ozone treatment plants in Canada will be White Rock’s and one in Coquitlam.

Answering questions following his talk, Jasim said that treatment by ozone – which dissipates into oxygen after the process – has also proven effective in removing compounds from pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPHCs) from water.

This contamination – which also includes antibiotics and hormones – has become a major threat to the world’s water supply, he said, in a broad-ranging talk emphasizing the need for international co-operation and international strategies to protect water, which the UN has defined as a basic human right.

Adequate standards of sanitation are vital in a complex interconnection of factors, he said.

“If you don’t have proper sanitation you will have problems with safe water,” he said.

Another huge threat, he said, is posed by algae bloom, which has reached catastrophic proportions in the Toledo, Ohio area adjacent to Lake Erie.

“The DNA from the algae is coming from agriculture and also from sewage,” he said, pointing out that the Great Lakes area represents 20 per cent of the world’s water supply, and yet has some 155 sewage outlets draining into it.

Water is so vital to the planet that the issue cuts across all lines of nationality, race and religion, he said, and solutions cannot be applied to one part of the world and not another.

“We’re all the same race – the race of human beings,” he said.

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