Water quality data from Well No. 3 suggests that there is surface water infiltration into the well water (groundwater) during seasonal low flow conditions, when selenium concentration in the rivers are at their most elevated level. This is causing seasonal selenium exceedances to the British Columbia Drinking Water Quality Guideline (BCDWQG) and the well operating permit held by The District, of 10 µg/L selenium. To date, The District of Sparwood has managed the water quality by shutting down Well No. 3 and providing water from Wells No. 1 and No. 2 only. To address this issue, the Environmental Assessment Office in collaboration with provincial agencies, the District and Teck, developed Condition 10 to require monitoring and the replacement of Well No. 3 by Teck.
Concentrations of selenium in the District’s Wells No. 1 and No. 2 are consistently below the BCDWQG and show little variation annually. Water quality data indicates that Wells No. 1, 2 and 4 have little connectivity to the Elk River or Michel Creek and are not influenced by selenium in surface water.
According to the release, the District has hired qualified professionals to support the evaluation, design, tender and construction of Well No. 4 and its related infrastructure. The District will work in partnership with Teck to review and update the Water Quality Plan, conduct monthly water quality sampling for all District drinking water wells and uphold commitments to the Baldy Ridge Extension Environmental Assessment Certificate, Condition 10. Teck is covering all costs associated with the construction and water quality testing of Well No. 4.