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Polymer and purpose statements seem unlikely partners, but when Water Trea​​tment Operator Chris Boudier gets the call for more polymer, he’s quick to respond.

“Our first priority is protecting Howe Sound by intercepting and treating the water from the old Britannia Mine site before releasing it back to the environment – that’s job #1,” Chris said. “For our team, the fun comes when we’re asked to help the Britannia Mine Museum share that story and what we do every day.”

Britannia Mine’s legacy dates back more than 100 years. First opened in 1904 and operating until 1974, the mine was once one of the largest copper producers in the British Commonwealth and the largest in Canada. That success came with a cost to the surrounding environment, Howe Sound in particular.

“A by-product of copper mining is acid rock drainage. Mining technology and the industry are significantly more advanced and environmentally conscious now, but that wasn’t the case when Britannia opened,” explained Vicki Campbell, Senior Manager of Capital, Growth and Operations. “For the better part of a century, water leaving the mine was damaging Howe Sound. It reached a point where aquatic life – whales, dolphins, fish – was essentially gone. EPCOR’s water treatment work has restored the Sound.”

More than 20 years later, the Britannia Mine operations team and the work they do to protect the Howe Sound is still making waves.

EPCOR was tapped in 2005 by the British Columbia government to step in and treat the water leaving the mine. An environmental success, the Howe Sound is teeming with aquatic life today. How EPCOR did it is one of the most asked-for programs at the Britannia Mine Museum.

“In the 2022/2023 school year we provided more than 150 programs for 4,300 schoolchildren,” said Angela Skidmore, Curriculum Program Specialist for the museum. “We take groups through a hands-on simulation of the treatment process. One of the main things we need for the program is (non-toxic) polymer to show how impurities ar​e removed from water – the Britannia Mine team has been a wonderful partner in bringing this story to life for our visitors.”

Positively affecting the communities where we live and work is our daily focus, but the little things we do can be just as impactful in living our purpose. Like providing bottles of polymer so that 4,300 schoolchildren can learn about the magic of water.​​