Tulameen spill shouldn’t affect Similkameen River

A tailings spill near Tulameen has resulted in an advisory from Interior Health regarding the river’s water quality.

  • Aug. 28, 2013 8:00 a.m.

A tailings spill from the Basin Coal Mine near Tulameen has resulted in an advisory from Interior Health regarding the river’s water quality.

Interior Health advised area residents on Wednesdaym August 28 that there would be little or no impact to drinking water sources in the Coalmont and Tulameen areas as a result of the tailings spill.

“There are no regulated water systems in the Coalmont or Tulameen area that draw from surface water. All the water systems draw from well water and well water is unaffected by this spill. Information obtained from the Ministry of Environment water license database indicates that there are no surface water intakes until two to three kilometres upstream of Princeton,” stated the bulletin.

Interior Health further advised that the river should now be flushed clear for residents drinking water directly from the Tulameen River. If, however, water appears discoloured, it is recommended that residents use bottled water until the water runs clear.

For people swimming on the river, Interior Health recommends that they take routine precautionary measures: Do not drink untreated surface water, keep eyes closed under water and vigorously towel dry off after swimming. If the water is turbid or discoloured, Interior Health recommends avoiding swimming.

Ministry of Environment is conducting sampling of the Tulameen River around Coalmont and Princeton to further confirm there are no impacts on water quality.

Several Keremeos residents noticed a discoloured  Similkameen River two weeks ago. It was determined then that the discolouration was the result of isolated heavy rain in the upper Similkameen watershed.

Lannea Parfitt, Communications Officer with Interior Health told the Review in an email that “There has been no indication that the spill impacted water in the Similkameen River.  In fact there is no evidence that the product made it to Princeton on the Tulameen River.

Therefore, Keremeos will not have any impacts.”

If residents have questions related to their drinking water quality, they can call IH Health Protection’s Penticton office at 250-770-5540.