Lead, copper found in water at Abbotsford new courthouse
Copper and lead were found in the water at a new courthouse in Abbotsford.
In a statement to CBC News earlier this week, BC’s Department of Citizen Services confirmed that water tests conducted in Abbotsford Law Courts in August 2022 showed levels of copper and lead that were “slightly above” levels allowed by regulatory standards .
The problem appears to be ongoing as the province recently hired a consulting firm to continue water testing at the building at 32375 Veterans Way for the next six months.
The news was first reported by the Fraser Valley Current, which noted that it remains unclear if the contamination is confined to the building and has nothing to do with the community’s water infrastructure.
In its statement, the ministry said courthouse staff first complained about the taste of the water and green residue in glassware in January 2022, a year after the facility opened.
At the time, the building’s operator took steps to address the issue, including flushing the building — removing standing water that had accumulated during periods of low usage — providing bottled water and conducting water assessments.
These reviews from the consulting firm Pinchin Ltd. led to further rounds of testing showing that further action was needed, leading to “preliminary emergency measures” in August 2022 – specifically shutting off water wells to prevent use or consumption of water.
In January this year, the ministry issued a notice on its online bidding portal, stating that it would contract Pinchin for further monthly water testing through the end of July.
Symptoms of short-term exposure to copper in drinking water include nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea, according to Health Canada. Long-term exposure can cause kidney and liver damage.
Meanwhile, according to health officials, lead ingestion can affect intellectual development, behavior, size and hearing in fetuses, infants and children.
When it opened in January 2021, Abbotsford Law Courts was the first new courthouse to be built in the province in almost 20 years, the last being Chilliwack Law Courts, which was completed in 2002.
The 180,000 square foot facility received approximately $152 million in funding from the province and an additional $5.7 million from the city of Abbotsford.