Once a month, Susan Chipman drives to a mountainside spring that burbles from the ground in North Vancouver and ﬁlls four 20-litre containers with water to use for drinking and cooking. When full, each container weighs 20 kg. Chipman lives on the top floor of a three-storey walk-up apartment in Vancouver. Her building has running water, of course, supplied and sourced by Metro Vancouver from protected reservoirs even higher up in the North Shore Mountains. But it lacks an elevator. So, she hauls her water jugs up the stairs, one in each hand for balance. “It’s a bit of a chore in the true sense of the word, but it’s worth it, I think.” Chipman says she was hooked from the ﬁrst sip. She tasted it and thought, “OK, this is real water.”
The cost of testing ranges between $30 and $120, depending on the scope of the analysis. The provincial Environment Department recommends residents on well water have it tested for bacteria every six months, and every two years for chemicals such as arsenic, fluoride, lead, nitrate/nitrite and uranium. Bacterial quality is usually assessed by a coliform test.
A hole drilled for a mineral exploration company seven years ago is leaking contaminated water into the environment, and although the Nova Scotia government learned of the problem last year, staff decided not to fix it. The incident raises questions about how the province regulates exploration activities.