The Village of Alert Bay has issued a boil water advisory to its residents which will likely remain in place until Thursday, Aug. 24 at the earliest.
The Village was first notified by Island Health on Aug. 10 that bacteria had been detected in the drinking water distribution system.
In response, the village immediately issued an advisory directing residents to boil tap water for at least one minute prior to consumption.
While the boil water advisory has been in place for more than a week, the village will do additional sampling before Island Health will release the results on Thursday, Aug. 24
The boil water advisory can not be lifted until two consecutive samples of water are clear from total coliforms.
“They have a groundwater supply and there is no level of treatment of the water because it’s coming from the well,” said Dr. Charmaine Enns, Medical Health Officer for the North Island with Island Health.
Consequently, the village does routine sampling on their water supply to ensure its safety.
The initial tests showed low levels of total coliforms. “Those bacteria are generally harmless as they are an indicator organism. If those bacteria can get into the water system than other bacteria can get in,” said Enns, adding that total coliforms “are a wide range of bacteria that come from soil and vegetation.”
Enns said this is a precautionary step, explaining the water was also tested for E.coli but those tests came back negative.
“The total coliforms are important because this is groundwater that has no additional levels of protection,” she explained, adding “the detection of total coliforms means there has been some type of entry or access to bacteria that wouldn’t normally be there.”
The village performed a chlorination to disinfect the distribution system. “They have already collected samples to look at what the water is like before they do the chlorination,” said Enns.
They ensured chlorine levels remained below the maximum threshold for human consumption asking residents to draw water through their households in order to help the chlorine come into contact with all parts of the distribution system.
“Drinking water is just so important – the reason why these advisories go on is so the public can be aware and make informed choices. The Village of Alert Bay is working very hard to do the right thing for their drinking water,” said Enns.