Drinking Water Advisory: Highland Drinking Water System

Jan 26, 2011

Do Not Consume Your Tap Water Until Further Notice

Customers on the Highland Drinking Water System on Salt Spring Island are advised not to use their tap water for drinking or food preparation because of the presence of a toxin produced by blue-green algae growing in St. Mary Lake. 

This advisory applies only to the Highland Drinking Water System because the water treatment process in that water system is ineffective in removing the toxin.  This notice does not apply to the Fernwood or North Saltspring Waterworks drinking water systems as the water treatment process in those systems can remove the microcystin toxin.  Recent testing confirms that the tap water in those systems continues to be safe to drink.

Tap water in the Highland Drinking Water System can continue to be used for showering, bathing, washing dishes, brushing teeth, etc.  Boiling the water has no effect on this toxin. 

The duration of this advisory is unknown because algal blooms in St. Mary Lake are very unpredictable. CRD staff will continue to monitor the situation and will keep you advised of progress.  Updates will be posted on the Salt Spring Island main page.

CRD staff are working diligently to explore treatment alternatives for the Highland Drinking Water System. Meanwhile, bottled drinking water is being supplied to each customer free of charge.

Dr. Stanwick, Chief Medical Health Officer, Vancouver Island Health Authority, advises that this notice is precautionary and errs on the side of safety.

Updates to the Advisory are available on the Salt Spring Island Main Page.