Thompson Rivers University’s Water & Wastewater Technology Program provides education and training to operators of all types of water and wastewater treatment, distribution and collections systems, including small water systems, in BC, Yukon, Canada and the USA. 

Small water systems call us on a regular basis, asking for technical advice on issues of treatment, regulations, operations, maintenance and water quality monitoring. From those conversations, we hear of the many challenges small water system operators face.

In British Columbia, there are approximately 4,800 small water systems registered; some 10% of them are on some form of public notification at any one time. And of the 280 First Nations water systems, less than 10% are on some form of public advisory. Being on public advisory means the small water systems are not able to deliver the safe water to the consumer.

Water suppliers struggle to understand how to reduce risks to their water supplies. Many systems lack the technical expertise, financial resources, knowledge of government regulations, asset and financial management skills, or other skills necessary to operate and maintain their systems, and to achieve the outcomes specified by the Drinking Water Protection Act, Regulation and Drinking Water Treatment Objectives. Additionally, most small systems remain isolated, in that they rarely have contact, share information or cooperate with other nearby small or large systems.

The operators of these systems want the knowledge and technical resources to help them overcome operational, maintenance and financial constraints, so they can consistently provide safe, potable drinking water to their communities, in compliance with government regulations.

In response, Thompson Rivers University took the lead to develop, coordinate and administer an Online Help Centre for BC Small Water Systems. This site provides operations and maintenance resources and tools to help small systems develop a multi-barrier approach to delivering reliable, safe water. These self-help tools will help Small Water Systems carry out technical assessments; recognize and assess hazards in the water systems; and review options for system improvements. There is also guidance on how to set up the business and financial structures to support the system, so that it may remain sustainable in the long term.

We hope these online technical resources help you develop and operate a small water system that is based on risk reduction and system sustainability and is providing safe drinking water.