Water Quality Update

The City of Fernie has completed independent testing and confirmed the increased 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.

Response Plan

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.