In House Filtration

The aesthetic qualities (taste, smell, feel) of Scott Point water may be different from what residents are used to in cities like Vancouver or Victoria. Understanding these different aesthetic parameters comes from appreciating differences in water source and water flow from other locations.

Water sourced from rainfall surface run-off in major cities in B.C. is usually contains far less minerals that water sourced from glacier melt, or the groundwater that Scott Point depends on. And keep in mind that Scott Point is surrounded by the ocean which also has an impact on groundwater minerals. It is these minerals (mostly calcium carbonate) that gives water an “earthy” taste and leaves limescale deposits on glassware.

Some residents also note a “chlorine” taste in the water. The District uses diluted bleach for primary disinfection and Island Health requires the District to maintain a minimum of 2 mg/L free chlorine at the ends of the system. Variables such as location, chlorine decay with time and temperature, low flow in at dead-ends, and fluctuations in total demand requires higher than minimum levels be maintained at disinfection locations to ensure water safety.

The common treatment for hard water and limescale is water softening (also known as ion exchange) where calcium is replaced by sodium. This requires a fair amount of salt to be used during treatment and is troublesome in terms of cost and amount of sodium in drinking water, particularly for people with hypertension or on sodium reduced diets. The District believes it is a fair trade off to keep sodium levels down and put up with a film on glassware that can easily be removed with periodic vinegar or CLR.

Dealing with taste – both “earthy” and “chlorine” is simpler. An inexpensive NSF 42 and/or NSF 53 certified carbon filter such as your refrigerator filter, Brita jug, or under-sink carbon cartridge should easily remove the chlorine. The District recommends a filter size of 5 micron or less and that filters be changed in accordance manufacturer’s recommended intervals.

There are in-home treatments that can replicate water aesthetics from “the city”, such as an in-house water softener (which is standard practice in many parts of Canada) or home reverse osmosis plant. However these systems present their own issues such as complicated installation, high cost, and ongoing maintenance; and can result lower pH and more acidic water.

More information on NSF standards for all types of in-house filtration (carbon filters, reverse osmosis and water softening) is available at https://www.nsf.org/knowledge-library/home-water-treatment-system-selection