Fernie confirms increased selenium in James White wells
The City of Fernie has completed independent testing confirming the increased presence of selenium in the James White Park Wells.
While levels are within the provincial standard of less than 10 micrograms per litre, the city has implemented ongoing independent monitoring and created a response plan should they rise above the limit.
“Our community’s continued access to safe, high quality drinking water is a critical priority,” said Mayor Ange Qualizza. “Confirming increased selenium in the James White Park Wells is a challenge, and very disappointing. Council has been committed to the long-term viability of the Fairy Creek water source and has budgeted for investment into protecting that critical piece of infrastructure.”
The city’s primary drinking water source is the Fairy Creek Spring, which is not influenced by selenium levels in the Elk River.
The James White Wells are a secondary source, designed to be used when Fairy Creek is unavailable due to turbidity or other events. Based on current testing levels, the James White Wells are a safe secondary source of clean drinking water during the periods when the primary source is not available.
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.
Since initiating more frequent testing in 2022, results continue to be within safe BC Drinking Water Quality Guidelines.
“Our response plan ensures that if the James White Wells were ever to meet, or exceed, the provincial limits for selenium they would not be used as a source of water. We would instead revert to the Fairy Creek source and issue the appropriate level of water quality advisory,” explained city Manager of Engineering Jenny Weir.
Moving forward the city is continuing to invest significantly in confirming the long-term viability of the Fairy Creek source, has budgeted for source improvements this year, and is in the process collecting data to support design of an additional treatment process for the source.
The city will continue to review and report on water quality data as we work to ensure confidence in our water supply.
City of Fernie