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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Performance assessment of small water systems in British Columbia Pokhrel, Sarin Raj


Delivery of safe and reliable drinking water to customers is essential to protect public health and maintain high quality of life. In Canada, provinces and territories have set their specific definitions for small water systems (SWSs), which is generally based on the population served and/or number of connections served. In this research, all water systems serving a population less than 5,000 are referred as small. The main objective of this research is to develop a performance assessment framework for British Columbia (BC) SWSs. The framework was developed focusing on the key aspects of drinking water quality management primarily related to the water distribution network (DN). This research involved three distinct steps. First, a questionnaire was prepared and distributed to the local bodies (including regional districts, municipalities, and improvement districts) across BC. The distribution of the questionnaire resulted in responses from 66 SWSs (33%). Based on these responses, a summary of water quality issues and challenges of water systems were highlighted, which could help policy makers understand the current state of SWSs in BC. Turbidity, microbial contamination, high natural organic matters (NOMs) concentration, color, iron and manganese, high water age, low flow rate, disinfection by-product formation, residual chlorine levels, biofilm growth, and old pipes were identified as common water quality issues. Second, performance was assessed through the lens of drinking water quality management using five criteria: (1) treatment and disinfection; (2) water quality issues; (3) operators’ capabilities; (4) infrastructure and funding; and (5) operational characteristics. The results indicated that the overall performance in the regional district water systems were comparatively better, followed by municipalities, and improvement districts. In all three local bodies, performance of SWS were primarily affected by the lack of advanced treatment iv facilities, water quality issues in DNs, inadequate funding, and infrastructure replacement practices. Finally, a strategy based on a multi-barrier approach was proposed to ensure effective implementation of the performance assessment framework. Findings of this study are useful for the managers of SWS to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their water systems. This comparative study is helpful in prioritizing issues for different types of SWSs

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