The City of Fernie's primary drinking water supply source is Fairy Creek. The City also maintains James White Park Wells as a secondary drinking water source.
The following annual report is a condition of the City’s Water System Operating Permit granted by Interior Health. The Annual Drinking Water Report provides the details on how the City’s water system operates and describes any work that was done to the system in that year.
Water Quality Update
The City of Fernie has completed independent testing and confirmed the presence of selenium in the James White Park Wells.
While levels are within the provincial standard of less that 10 micrograms per litre, we have implemented ongoing monitoring and created a response plan should they rise above the limit.
Moving forward we will continue to invest in the long-term safety and security of quality drinking water for the City.
Fernie’s Water Sources
The City’s primary drinking water source is the Fairy Creek Spring.
The James White Park Wells are a secondary source, used when Fairy Creek is unavailable due to increased turbidity, typically during freshet.
Based on current testing levels, the James White Wells are a safe secondary source of clean drinking water during the periods when our primary source is experiencing turbidity events or unavailable due to maintenance or inspections.
Testing and Monitoring
The City of Fernie and Teck are both independently monitoring water quality in our municipal wells and sharing data to ensure safe drinking water that meets the standards of the BC Drinking Water Quality Guidelines.
Testing shows the James White Wells are influenced by the Elk River and can experience increased selenium concentrations in spring due to seasonal fluctuations. Since starting testing, results have all been under the BC Drinking Water Quality Guideline limit of 10 micrograms per litre for selenium.
In addition to the regular water testing conducted by the City as part of our Water System Operating Permit granted by Interior Health, City staff are currently undertaking sampling of the James White Wells for selenium on a bi-weekly basis. Our 2021 Annual Drinking Water Report provides provides the details on how the City’s water system operates, describes any work that was done to the system in the past year, as well as comprehensive water source testing results.
If testing shows the James White Wells at, or above, the provincial limits for selenium they would not be used as a source of water.
This means that if the Fairy Creek source is experiencing a turbidity event at the same time as the James White Wells is showing selenium beyond the provincial limits the City of Fernie would continue to use the Fairy Creek source and together with Interior Health would issue a boil water advisory.
The City of Fernie is investing significantly in confirming the long-term viability of the Fairy Creek source, and in additional treatment and improvements.
We will continue to review water quality data and undertake an analysis to determine the long-term viability of the James White Wells, and are actively working with Teck to ensure the long-term sustainability of safe and healthy drinking water for the community.
James White Park Wells
The City of Fernie experiences water quality issues each year with its primary water source, Fairy Creek- typically during spring freshet between April and June, which potentially results in the need for residents to boil their drinking water before its consumption. The City uses two production wells installed within James White Park to provide safe drinking water quality throughout the year. The wells are intended to be used for approximately three months (April through June) during the freshet and potentially on other occasions if the main source water quality becomes low. While in operation the well’s water will be extracted at a rate not to exceed 200 liters per second.
The secondary source consists of two well houses in James White Park containing the new production wells, a well control facility located adjacent to the City of Fernie Main Sewage Lift Station in James White Park, and a new water main connecting the pumped water to the existing water system.
Use of the wells was conditional on receiving an Environmental Assessment Certificate approved by the BC Ministry of Environment in keeping with the BC Environmental Assessment Act. This Environmental Assessment Certificate was granted to the City in November 2015. The information about the Environmental Assessment process and the official certificate are available online at https://projects.eao.gov.bc.ca/p/james-white-park-wells/detail.
The City is continuing work to ensure that all 23 conditions of the Environmental Assessment Certificate are being met.
- Aquifer Monitoring Plan
- Surface Water Monitoring Plan
- Operational Pumping Test Plan
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Well Owner and Surface Water Tenure Holder Engagement Plan
- Operational Pumping Test Plan - Coming Soon!
- James White Park Well Field Protection Plan - Coming Soon!
- The Interior Health Authority (IHA) regulates the permitting of the construction and operation of drinking water systems in the Southern Interior of BC
- IHA stipulates that safe drinking water, after treatment and disinfection, should normally produce a minimum chlorine residual of 0.2 mg/L
- Health Canada reports no harmful health effects in people who drink water with large concentrations (50 mg/L) of chlorine over short periods of time
- The concentration of residual chlorine in Fernie’s drinking water system, when using the Fairy Creek source ranges from 0.2 mg/L to 0.4 mg/L
- The concentration of residual chlorine in Fernie’s drinking water system, when using the James White Wells source ranges from 0.8 mg/L to 1.0 mg/L
If you’re interested in additional information on our water system, please contact us through the Request for Service
Water Quality (Turbidity)
The City of Fernie measures turbidity levels on an ongoing basis and publishes the Water Quality Ratings each day.
What does a FAIR rating mean?
A Fair rating (Water Quality Advisory) is a notice that the City of Fernie will issue if turbidity levels exceed 1 NTU. Children, the elderly, people with weakened immune systems, and anyone seeking additional protection drink will be advised to drink boiled water or a safe alternative.
What does a POOR rating mean?
A Poor rating (Boil Water Notice) is a notice we will issue if turbidity levels exceed 5 NTU’s. All users will be advised to drink boiled water or a safe alternative.
Turbidity? What is it and how does it affect me?
Public Facilities [PDF - 200 KB] If you Serve the Public you need to know this!
If you wish to receive automatic email updates on water quality please contact City Hall or call 250.423.6817 to register.
Water Shut Off
To request a temporary water shut off please contact City Hall at (250) 423-6817. The cost is $12 to shut the water off, and an additional $12 to turn it back on. Please pay the Water On/Off fee at City Hall and allow 24 hours notice to schedule the work unless it is an emergency.
New Utility Services? Contact City Hall for information regarding a New Water or Sewer Service Connection.
Would you like information on the following?
- WaterSmart [PDF - 1.2 MB]
- WaterSmart 2009-2012 Data Review and Actions Summary Report
- Columbia Basin Trust Fernie WaterSmart Link