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Is Vancouver Tap Water Safe to Drink?

Scott Winfield
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by Scott Winfield

Water pollution and safe tap water are viable concerns whether we live in Metro Vancouver or plan on visiting. Vancouver lives by strict water safety guidelines. The precedent falls on city staff, Vancouver Health, and Metro Vancouver to meet those guidelines.

Vancouver tap water is safe to drink and meets the health and safety standards set by the water governing bodies.

To ensure the standard remains intact and that Vancouver tap water is safe to drink, the department performs vital functions such as:

  • Daily water test at the source
  • Tests water at 53 sampling stations
  • Ensures that water is distributed through non-lead pipes, and
  • Other field testing requirements

Vancouver residents can access water quality reports easily to better understand the outcome of these efforts.

Aerial view of False Creek and the Burrard street bridge
Aerial view of False Creek and the Burrard street bridge in Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver Water Quality Report: What Is in the Water?

Vancouver’s drinking water meets stringent water testing requirements. There are three markers that the water must meet to pass inspection.

  • Turbidity (clarity)
  • Aesthetic objectives of water temperature,and
  • Bacteriological content

Because most of the water is from rain, it contains very little limescale and is very soft. Once the water reaches the treatment facility, it undergoes a disinfection process.

During this process, chemical solutions and chlorine additives treat pathogens and make the water safe for distribution and consumption. Chlorine is a necessary evil.

It leaves a residual taste and smell. However, most Vancouver residents overlook the chlorine treatment and no longer notice the scent or taste.

Homes closer to chlorination facilities will have a more substantial presence of chlorine in taste and smell. However, the water meets all drinking water guidelines regardless of which junction the water enters homes from in the Metro Vancouver area.

Vancouver water flows through upgraded pipes that are lead-free. Buildings built before 1989 may still contain lead pipes. But the city water department invested in lead-free water lines in those facilities under their governance.

Interesting Fact: Vancouver has never added fluoride to its drinking water. However, the water contains trace elements of naturally occurring fluoride (less than 0.05 mg/l).

Is The Water in Vancouver Hard or Soft?

Water in Vancouver comes mainly from rain and as a result is very soft, measuring 0.3 grains per gallon.

Water softness measurements define water soft or hardness. Soft means less than 60mg/liter. Medium hardness is between 60 to 120mg/liter, and hardness falls into the high 120 to 180 mg/liter range.

Where Does Vancouver Get Its Water From?

To understand what’s in Vancouver’s tap water, we must understand the source. Most of the drinking water in Vancouver comes from rainfall and snowmelt.

This water collects in three watersheds and travels through underground aquifers naturally to its destination.

The rainwater doesn’t take long pooling in rock formations to pick up mineral sources. Therefore, it remains soft.

Underground aquifers
Underground aquifers

To prevent water contamination, the watersheds in Capilano, Seymore, and Coquitlam are off-limits to the public. Capilano and Seymore watersheds are prone to picking up heavier particles which filtration devices remove. The Coquitlam watershed requires little additional filtration.

Vancouver is a wet city. It ranks number four for rainfall accumulation and receives 57.3 inches (1457 mm) annually.

How Tap Water Is Treated in Vancouver

Vancouver’s drinking water is safe. Safety measures help prevent outbreaks and spreading of water-borne pathogens that cause diseases. All water sources are prone to an occasional or accidental invasion of pathogens from human and animal sewage or other sources of contamination.

Health Canada is an essential proponent in protecting the health of Canadians and establishes guidelines that each province or territory must meet. Water suppliers are responsible for delivering safe drinking water under the Drinking Water Protection Act and Drinking Water Regulation. Additionally, water suppliers must meet operating permit standards.

Water suppliers must treat the water and continually monitor and test the quality for contamination. If a problem occurs, they must alert the public immediately.

Providing safe drinking water to residents also involves environmental health officers, public health, and medical health staff to ensure these regulations meet the water laws.

The Improved Water Filtration Plant

Metro Vancouver relies on its new water filtration plant. It is situated downstream of the Seymour Reservoir in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. This facility will also treat the water from the Capilano Reservoir.

The water plant relies on the best methods of filtration to treat water clarity and destroy giardia and cryptosporidium, microorganisms responsible for illnesses. This innovative filtration process helps reduce the volumes of chlorine required for the same disinfecting operation used by old-fashioned methods.

Since less chlorine is used to treat fewer harmful organics, fewer by-products are needed for the same result. Vancouver residents notice an improved taste quality, clearer color, and less odor.

Do They Have the Cleanest Tap Water?

Canada traditionally ranks in the top five for the world’s best drinking water. Clearbrook, a small community in Abbotsford, BC, formerly a part of Metro Vancouver, has received many gold awards for its pristine tap water.

Tap water in Vancouver undergoes rigorous testing, must meet many standards and is constantly monitored. Vancouverites rest assured that they drink some of the best tap water in the world.

Canadian water ranked fourth in an international survey measuring the water quality index under OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). That ranking includes the standards Vancouver and its suburbs must meet according to regulation.


The federal government regulates water in Canada and ensures that all Canadians have access to quality tap water. Tap water for Vancouver is treated in a water treatment facility and tested rigorously and daily to ensure no contaminants or lethal pathogens enter the water supply.

Metro Vancouver and its water-sharing partners provide quality water that meets strict standards and follows federal law guidelines, thereby providing some of the best tap water available anywhere to the Vancouver population.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
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