Metro Vancouver to test for first time microplastic contamination of regional drinking water sources

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      Metro Vancouver boasts of the best drinking water in the world.

      Everyone wants it to stay that way for sure.

      Ensuring that means preventing contamination from known and emerging sources.

      One possible new contaminant is microplastics.

      The Metro Vancouver regional government is expected to approve funding for a pilot study about the presence of microplastics in its water sources and treatment plants.

      The proposed $150,000 fund will support a two-year study from 2022 to 2023.

      The U.S. National Ocean Service defines microplastics as those that are “less than five millimeters in length (or about the size of a sesame seed)”.

      Microplastics come from many sources like large plastic debris.

      “In addition, microbeads, a type of microplastic, are very tiny pieces of manufactured polyethylene plastic that are added as exfoliants to health and beauty products, such as some cleansers and toothpastes,” the American agency said.

      According to the agency, these tiny particles “easily pass through water filtration systems”, and end up in the ocean and lakes “posing a potential threat to aquatic life”.

      Metro Vancouver’s water supply comes from rain and snowmelt that are collected by the Capilano, Seymour, and Coquitlam reservoirs.

      These watersheds are closed to the public.

      Drinking water is treated right at two plants: Seymour-Capilano and Coquitlam.

      Lucas Pitts, director with the regional government’s water services department, prepared a report about five water sustainability projects proposed for funding.

      One of these is the microplastics study, which will the first in the region.

      “Gaining further knowledge on the presence of potential emerging contaminants will help Metro Vancouver to better prepare and anticipate possible changes necessary at the treatment plants,” Pitts wrote.

      Pitts’ report is included in the agenda Friday (February 26) of the Greater Vancouver Water District.

      “This study will evaluate  the presence and  concentration of microplastics in Metro Vancouver’s  source waters  (Capilano, Seymour, and Coquitlam),  treatment  residuals from  the Seymour Capilano Filtration Plant (SCFP) and within the water treatment train at SCFP and the Coquitlam treatment plant,” project’s summary states.