The Village of Alert Bay has issued a boil water advisory to its residents.
The reason for the advisory was due to the Village being notified by Island Health on Aug. 10 that bacteria had been detected in the drinking water distribution system.
In response, the village issued an advisory directing residents to boil tap water for at least one minute prior to consumption.
The village will also disinfect the water supply with chlorine while ensuring chlorine levels remain below the maximum threshold for human consumption.
“They have a ground water 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 most recent 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 test came back negative.
“The total coliforms are important because this is ground water 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 has scheduled 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.
The village has asked residents to draw water through their households in order to help the chlorine come into contact with all parts of the distribution system. Water system users may notice the smell or taste of chlorine.
The village advises residents with aquariums and fish ponds to not use chlorinated water to replenish tanks and warned that kidney dialysis patients should not use chlorinated water in dialysis machines because chlorine renders hemodialysis ineffective.
Once the chlorination is complete, the boil water advisory will not be lifted until two consecutive samples of water are clear from total coliforms.
“It’s possible the community should expect the boil water advisory to be on until the end of next week,” said Enns, adding “to have the boil water lifted by Thursday would be the goal, but that is dependent on the two sets of samples being normal.”
She continued, stating that “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.”