Residents using the Burton water system have been issued with a boil water warning.
Recent testing shows the current water quality is poor and unsafe for drinking after low levels of E. coli and total coliform bacteria were found.
E. coli is a bacterium commonly found in the intestines of humans and other animals, where it usually causes no harm. Some strains can cause severe food poisoning, especially in children and the elderly.
“Any time we get E. coli in our water systems, it’s considered non-potable, and that’s why we issued the boiled water,” said Jason McDiarmid, manager of utility services for the Regional District of Central Kootenay. “Most total coliform bacteria are relatively harmless, but some could be a health concern. In the past, if you got a total coliform bacteria, you would then do fecal coliform bacteria tests and E. coli tests. It’s automatic now that when we do a sample, we do a total coliform test and an E. coli test.”
Water tests are done on the system every week, usually on a Monday or Tuesday. It takes a couple of days to get the results.
Because the Burton water system is a well source, it is monitored for bacteriologicals and turbidity, which is a cloudiness of the water.
The RDCK and Interior Health recommend residents drink boiled water or a safe alternative until further notice.
Water intended for drinking, washing fruits and vegetables, making beverages or ice, or brushing teeth should be boiled for one minute. Boiled water should then be refrigerated in a clean, covered container. Customers could also choose to use bottled or distilled water, or water that has been filtered through a well-maintained treatment device.
Measures are being taken to reduce risks for residents.
Consumptive level chlorination will be added to the reservoir, which will help disinfect the water. Flushing will be done as well.
In order for the boil water order to be lifted, two consecutive samples, taken on two different days, must indicate there is no bacteria in the water.
“Next week we’ll take a sample, it takes a few days to get the same results back, and if that’s clear, we’ll take a new sample the following week,” said McDiarmid. “It’s usually at least a two week process.”