Water and Air Quality
Whistler has a rich supply of water, yet it is still important to conserve where we can and to keep pollutants out. Air quality is also important to the success of our resort community and quality of life.
Photo Credit: Bob Brett
The Future of Water in Whistler
In 2020, Whistler’s water resources provide a dependable supply of healthy water to meet the long-term needs of people, other species, and nature.
Whistler’s water provision and discharge practices as well as infrastructure emulate natural systems by not drawing more water than nature is able to provide. Volumes of effluent discharged into the Cheakamus River are lower than they were in the past and the wastewater is clean and readily assimilated without disturbing aquatic habitat or downstream water uses.
Whistler’s water strategy is concerned with providing a dependable supply of high quality water for appropriate uses. It focuses on the entire water system, including sourcing, distribution, use and disposal as well as addresses both physical infrastructure and management practices. The scope of this strategy also extends to flood control and watershed management approaches.
Whistler’s water resources provide a dependable supply of healthy water to meet the long-term needs of people, other species and nature. Water supply is distributed readily, equitably and affordably and is managed proactively within the context of effective and efficient emergency preparedness. Residents and visitors are educated about and encouraged to protect and conserve natural water resources.
Whistler’s potable water supply system delivers water of excellent quality, which meets or exceeds all relevant health standards and meets benchmark aesthetic standards whenever possible. Potable water source protection is optimized with a multi-barrier approach.
Healthy streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands support thriving populations of fish, wildlife and aquatic invertebrates.
In many ways, we are achieving this vision, but must never take our water for granted. The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) in partnership with the Ministry of Environment has an annual monitoring program for streams and lakes to observe trends and take action where needed.
Water Quality Measurements:
- Click here for Beach Water Quality Results.
Through Whistler2020, the community developed a vision for air quality and developed the following description of success:
The Sea-to-Sky Corridor continues to enjoy clean, healthy air. Whistler’s healthy air is due in part to an integrated planning approach. Clean air will contribute to Whistler residents’ and guests’ enjoyment of the natural surroundings and help them to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Due to the cleaner air, everyone benefits from improved quality of life, and visitors will come here to breathe our fresh air and enjoy our panoramic views.
The RMOW is a member of the Sea-to-Sky Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP), a regional and collaborative action plan for protecting air quality in the Sea-to-Sky Air Shed. The Sea to Sky Clean Air Society was formed in 2010 and consists of provincial, regional and municipal government representatives of the corridor, transit companies, utility companies, and local industry, continues to develop and implement the plan. In addition to transportation sources, the AQMP will also need to address other significant sources of pollution such as space heating (natural gas, propane and wood stoves), as well as off-road vehicles and machinery since these emission sources produce the majority of emissions in the air shed. Emissions from marine transportation are also a concern in the corridor.
Good air quality is a result of community and government activities broadly grouped into: Planning, Monitoring and Testing, Educating and Regulating.
Monitoring Air Quality:
Air quality in the region has been measured by the B.C. Ministry of Environment since the late 1970s, and is presently monitored continuously in Squamish, Whistler and Langdale. In addition, the RMOW has operated an air quality monitoring station at Cheakamus Crossing since September 2010.
At the Cheakamus Crossing air quality monitoring station, wind speed, direction, and particulates smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) are measured continuously during the year. The small particulates measured are a good indicator of air quality as particulates this size are mostly a result of combustion, with very few natural particles this small.
There are two Ambient Air Quality Objectives (AAQO) set by the Ministry of Environment that we can use for comparison to this monitoring data.
The AAQO sets out that 98 percent of the daily averages should be below 25 μg/m3. At the Cheakamus Crossing monitoring station, 98 percent of the measured 24 hour averages were below 10.0 μg/m3 in 2011, well below the limit set by the air quality objective.
The AAQO for the annual average for PM2.5 is less than 8 μg/m3. The annual average at Cheakamus Crossing was 4.9 μg/m3 in 2011, also well below the air quality objective.