Drinking Water Quality

Clean water is essential to our health and well-being. Canadian drinking water supplies are generally of excellent quality. UBC regularly tests drinking water to ensure it is safe.

Drinking Water Quality

What is the drinking water quality at UBC?

UBC water consumers often express interest in the source and quality of their drinking water on the Vancouver campus. The drinking water at UBC is safe and clean and in order to maintain high-quality drinking water on campus, UBC regularly collects and samples drinking water. We assess drinking water quality against current Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality as published by Health Canada on behalf of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water.

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What is the water source at UBC?

Drinking water for UBC’s Vancouver Campus (and other Metro Vancouver locations) comes from Metro Vancouver’s water system. Five hundred and eighty-five square kilometers of mountainous land is closed to public access to protect the large supply lakes that collect water from rain, snowmelt, creeks and streams from the Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam Watersheds, that make up the water source for Lower Mainland municipalities. This water is delivered to UBC through many kilometers of water mains and pipes.

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How is water quality tested at UBC?

Water quality is regularly tested by Metro Vancouver at the source, at treatment facilities and at various distribution points and it consistently meets Health Canada’s standards for quality. At the UBC campus, drinking water samples are collected from 16 sampling stations throughout the distribution system network and analyzed for various parameters. See table below for information on the parameters sampled and sampling frequency. Read the latest weekly distribution testing results in the UBC Annual Water Quality Monitoring Report 2016

TABLE: Sampling Parameters and Frequency

Total coliforms
E. coli
Free chlorine residual
Halo acetic Acids
Vinyl chloride

A minimum of two times per year, water quality is tested at the tap and/or at drinking water fountains in buildings on campus. The sampling locations vary to cover a large cross-section of campus buildings—different geographical locations, various occupancy (research, operations, student housing, etc), old buildings, high traffic, and buildings for which there have been special water testing requests. Buildings are tested for at least one calendar year through two test periods.

Samples collected in each target building are measured for standard parameters contained in the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. These measurements include microbiological parameters (i.e. total coliforms, e-coli, turbidity), chemicals (i.e. arsenic, copper, lead, iron, zinc etc) and physical parameters (i.e. pH, temperature, odour).

In general, the highest-priority guidelines are those dealing with microbiological contaminants. Guidelines for chemical and physical parameters are:

  • health-based and listed as maximum acceptable concentrations (MAC);
  • based on aesthetic considerations and listed as aesthetic objectives (AO);
  • established based on operational considerations and listed as operational guidance values (OG).

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Where do I find the most recent water testing results?

A total of 14 buildings were tested twice in 2017. All drinking water samples and parameters found deviating from the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality are related to aesthetic objectives or operational guidelines and have no known health impact.

Read the latest testing results – Drinking-Water-Combined-Buildings-Nov 2017

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Who do I contact if I have a concern with drinking water at UBC?

If you have a specific water quality concern, contact the Facility Manager for your building or call the UBC Building Operations Service Centre at 604.822.2173.
Although not required for health reasons, to ensure the freshest supply and best aesthetic qualities, run the tap until the temperature is noticeably cooler before drinking the water.

Testing confirms drinking water quality on campus meets the Health Canada Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.

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