Description of Steps in Exploring POE

Here you can read about each step to take in exploring POE for your water supply system.

We have limited the description of each step to two or three paragraphs. As you read through this information you will appreciate the process involved in installing water treatment. The easiest and quickest way for you to make progress is to complete and submit the POE Questionnaire. Alternatively phone or email us. When we have information about your water system we can help guide you through the process.

Step 1: Review POE Information

You can learn more about POE by following the links below. They take you to information in the form of introductory brochures and guidelines.

  1. Find out if POE / POU may be appropriate for your water system.
  2. Items you should consider in planning a POE / POU installation.
  3. Detailed guidance for planning and procuring a POE / POU system.

At this early stage you may also want to communicate with your drinking water officer who may be able to offer further guidance.

There are several significant differences between water treatment using POE and water treatment in a centralized facility. One of the most important differences is that all your water users must be aware of the nature and operation of the POE units, since they will be installed in individual homes. It is a good idea therefore to invite all your water users to look through the information below. In a subsequent step you will find suggestions for organizing a public involvement process in which you communicate fully with your customers about POE.

Step 2: Complete Questionnaire

An early stage in exploring the use of POE water treatment is to gather basic information about your water system. You can then complete the POE Questionnaire provided on this web site. First look briefly through the POE Questionnaire; this will show you the information required. Then assemble the information by looking through files, talking to people with some experience of the water system, and by checking certain items on site. Even if you subsequently invite specialists to design your POE system this information must be gathered together; you may save time and money by doing it now.

You will notice when you look at the POE Questionnaire that it may already contain basic information about you water system. If so, this is the information you provided when you became a Registered User with Even if you do not proceed with POE it is very useful to have all the information in the POE Questionnaire assembled in one place.

Step 3: Review Your Water Source

One of the most important things you need to know when considering POE is the quality of your water source. If the water is from a surface source there is a high possibility that it will contain biological contaminants which can cause illness. If the water is from an underground source it may also contain undesirable substances; these may cause illness or create problems in the water system.

In order to properly design the POE system it is necessary to first have a full analysis made of your source water by sending samples to a testing laboratory. The “testing lab” will sample for a full suite of contaminants. The results can then be used by the designer of the POE system to determine the treatment components required.

You may need to collect source water samples at different times of the year, particularly if you use a surface water source, because of variations from one season to another. Samples must be collected and shipped in accordance with a sampling protocol. 

Step 4: Communicate with your Drinking Water Officer

British Columbia is divided into five health authorities. Within each health authority there are staff members responsible for working with all water supply systems within the health authority. This includes enforcing the Drinking Water Protection Act (DWPA) and Regulation, which applies to all water supply systems. A water supply system is any water system which serves two or more households.

Section 6 of the DWPA requires a water supply system to provide drinking water to users that is potable water, and meets any additional requirements established by the regulations or by its operating permit. However a small system is exempt from section 6 of the Drinking Water Protection Act if each recipient of the water from the system has a Point of Entry or Point of Use treatment system that makes the water potable.

In planning a Point of Entry system you should contact your local Drinking Water Officer (DWO) at an early stage and outline your interest in POE. The DWO will have useful information and advice. You will need a construction permit and an operating permit for your POE system, which are provided by the health authority. You should talk with your DWO to explore circumstances in which certain exemptions may be granted, or the requirement for a construction permit may be deferred. 

Step 5: Assess your Water Supply System

Once installed the POE units will treat the water entering individual homes within your service area. However these POE units are only one element in your overall water system. You also have source works, perhaps in the form of a surface intake, or perhaps in the form of pumps and boreholes. You probably have one or more reservoirs, and possibly some form of central treatment. You also have the distribution system which may include pipes, valves, fire hydrants, standpipes and other appurtenances. It is important to assess the condition of all these items and to ensure they are functioning as intended. You should also review the protection of your water source. Your watershed may be subject to deterioration or there may be a possibility of contaminants affecting your aquifer.

You may have made a recent system assessment. If not, this assessment should be done in conjunction with planning your POE installation. The assessment may mean you avoid unpleasant surprises. To illustrate: you would not want to find after you have spent time and money on installing POE that your water source is in imminent danger of failure. You can undertake a self-assessment of your water system by following self-assessment guidelines. This can provide reassurance you are on the right course. Or you can contact a water system assessment specialist.

Step 6: Estimate the Costs of POE

Cost is one of the biggest considerations for a small community considering the upgrade of its water system. You may be interested in POE in the first instance because you believe it can offer cost savings compared to another approach. Obtaining an estimate of costs can be one of the most challenging aspects of the process. It is generally not possible to provide a final estimate of costs until the POE system design has been completed in detail. However an initial estimate of costs can be obtained at this stage if you contact an experienced supplier of POE equipment.

The costs of a POE system are in two parts: capital costs and operating costs. Capital costs include the costs to purchase the POE equipment, and the costs of installation, start-up and commissioning. Operating costs are incurred once the POE units are installed and include costs for power, sampling and testing, routine maintenance & inspection, and planned replacement of components such as filters.

You can obtain an estimate of these costs from an experienced supplier. The supplier will need the details about your water system outlined in the questionnaire you completed in Step 2, together with other information. You can request an initial estimate of costs (sometimes known as a “budget quotation” because it helps you to budget for the expenditure). The quickest way to obtain a budget quotation is to complete and submit the Questionnaire.

Step 7: Work out the Water Charges Required

Once you have an idea of the cost of the POE installation you can work out the effects on your water rates and charges. You may have money in a reserve fund which can help pay for the costs of installation, or there may be grants available that will help with the costs. Typically the difference between the cost of the POE installation and the money in your capital account is the expenditure which must be met by additional charges to your customers.

You may ask each customer to pay the full cost of the POE installation as a one-time up-front cost. Alternatively you may borrow the full capital cost of the POE installation, with repayment of the loan amortized over a period of say ten years. The loan payments are recovered by monthly charges to customers. For more information on finding money for water system upgrades, look for the Access to Funding Program on this web site.

You should also work out the operating and maintenance costs for the POE installation. The capital costs and operating costs together will influence the new water charges made to customers. We can help you contact specialists who can help you to work out the price you should charge for water in order to recover the costs from customers over time.

Step 8: Involve your Customers

At a previous step in the process we suggested that you undertake initial communication with your customers about plans for a POE installation. At this point you have enough information to provide them with a more detailed picture. You know about the general condition of your water system, you have an analysis of source water quality, and you know generally the kind of POE treatment components required. Your drinking water officer has provided guidance and comments, and you know the range of operating and capital costs involved. You have an estimate of the effects on your water rates and charges.

General information about POE installations is provided in the information sources mentioned in Step 1. Now you are in a position to describe specific details of your possible installation and obtain comments from customers. There are several key points to communicate. These include: all customers should agree to have POE installed on their premises; the POE equipment will be owned and maintained by your water system; customers must not tamper with the equipment; and customers must allow access for equipment maintenance. We can provide brochures which will help you in the communications process.

Step 9: Design the POE System

You may now in a position to proceed with design in detail of the POE installation. In previous steps you assembled information and assessed your water system. You have talked with regulators and your customers, and you have an estimate of the capital and operating costs of POE. You may now be in a position to proceed with the detailed design of the system. In the detailed design process certain important decisions are made. These may include the exact nature of the POE treatment components to be installed, the location of the POE equipment in individual homes and premises, the nature of the monitoring system to be used and the sampling protocol, and the content of the agreements you have with suppliers and water system customers.

You have a choice about the detailed design process. You may employ a consulting engineer to undertake design. This option may be preferable if you have already engaged an engineer to review your system, or if the treatment process required is complicated. Alternatively you may request the supplier of the treatment equipment to also undertake the design. This may be a less expensive route, particularly if the treatment process required is uncomplicated. Many well-established equipment suppliers have experience of design and can undertake this process efficiently in certain instances. The treatment components you require are influenced by your source water quality. Follow this link to see an example.

Before you begin installation of the system ensure you have a construction permit in place, which you obtain from the health authority having jurisdiction.

Step 10: Invite Quotations

You may have contacted a supplier of POE equipment at an earlier stage in the process to obtain a budget quotation and other information. Now is the time to obtain a formal quotation for supply and possibly installation of the POE equipment. The formal quotation should be based on the detailed design and specification of the POE system. If the detailed design has been prepared by a consultant, the consultant may invite quotations from several suppliers, and subsequently provide a recommendations as to which should be accepted. Alternatively you may ask one or more suppliers to provide a quotation for design and supply of the equipment. You then review these quotations and accept the one which is in your best interests. You should have a written contract in place with the supplier.

In certain cases you may wish to invite quotations from a company which can provide the full range of services, including design, supply, installation and maintenance. 

In inviting quotations you should use a concise set of documents which set out the terms under which quotations should be submitted and which govern any subsequent contract for supply.

Step 11: Install POE System

You have options for the installation of the POE equipment in individual homes and premises. As outlined in previous steps, you may arrange with the equipment supplier to undertake installation, either directly or by sub-contacting to another company. Alternatively you may contract directly with an experienced individual or company to undertake installation. Installation should be done by experienced individuals with appropriate skills, mainly in plumbing and electrical work. Installers should have training that relates directly to the type of POE equipment being installed. In some cases this training can be included in the supply contract. Prior to installation ensure you have the appropriate permits in place; contact your local building inspection department.

Installation should include not only installation of the treatment equipment; it should include electrical and plumbing connections, installation of the equipment enclosure including heating if required, and installation of monitoring and alarm components. It is good practice to include for monitoring of important parameters in the system, and the installation of an alarm function and automatic shut-off in the event of equipment malfunction. Part of the installation process should be a start-up phase to ensure all components are working properly. This should be followed by a commissioning phase during which a standard protocol is followed to make sure all parts of the system including monitoring, alarming and signal transmission are operating properly under all circumstances of operation.

Step 12: Operate & Maintain the POE System

With the POE system installed and commissioned you now move into the operating stage. At this point your new operating permit should be in place. You should ensure your local operator is familiar with the operation and routine maintenance of the POE equipment. This may mean the operator has an opportunity to attend a training workshop before the installation is complete. You should have a maintenance schedule in place, showing when, for example, the filters should be changed. A record of incidents and malfunctions of the equipment should be maintained. You will need to take water samples following a procedure outlined in your operating agreement. You also need to have the means in place to record alerts and alarms generated by individual POE units, and to ensure an appropriate response.

All access agreements with individual homeowners should be in place by this stage. In some instances you may encounter a small minority of property owners who do not agree to the installation of POE equipment on their premises. You will want a procedure in place to deal with this situation, which in extreme cases may mean you no longer supply water to property owners who are not willing to comply.

As you move into routine operation, ensure you have discussed your installation fully with your drinking water officer and all elements are well-documented. You should now be able to enjoy the benefits of improved water quality. These may mean for example that you can now secure affordable liability insurance, and that all residents of the community enjoy an increase in property values over time.

We hope you found this outline of the twelve step process to be helpful. Follow this link to complete the POE Questionnaire.