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Water Today Title August 19, 2018

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Advisory of the day
2018/7/27

LETHBRIDGE, AB: BWA LIKELY CAUSED BY TAMPERING



This story is brought to you in part by Proteus Waters


A boil water advisory (BWA) issued for parts of Lethbridge County in southern Alberta is being audited by the Lethbridge North County Potable Water Co-op.

The BWA imposed on July 5 and rescinded on July 16 affected customers who live north of the Old Man River between Highway 845 and Highway 25 north out of Picture Butte and including the area south of Highway 519.

When WT reported on this story July 10, an unlocated leak was thought to be the cause of the depressurization of the water distribution system.

Upon further inspection, staff at Lethbridge North County Potable Water Co-op found that there was in fact no visible leak anywhere in the distribution system.

Operations Technician Martin Nordstrum said "it ended up being a tampering issue but we have not found the person yet. The process of investigation is to wait until I can see it graphically that there is an unspecified drop in pressure that I can't identify, and then you have to go find it. It's like finding a needle in a haystack."

He said that at first it looked like the average leak because of how long the water pressure was down. But when the system started to recover with water levels stabilizing after 28 hours, that was ruled out.

Nordstrum said "what we believe is that there were at least 3 different people that were tampering a the same time ... for it to be that significant." Staff is unaware of what motivated the event but said the timing did coincide with when people in the area are spraying their crops.

Nordstrum added "all Co-op members have signed an agreement, a water agreement that stipulates that they are not going to mess with the system, they're going to call you for service calls and stuff like that, but like any system there are a few bad apples that spoil it for everyone."

The Lethbridge North County Potable Water Co-op is a drip system coop designed to handle a certain amount of water and in this case that was bypassed.

Nordstrum said "our system is fairly new but depressurization is not a good thing at any time so that's an unknown factor, we would hope that our pipe was able to handle it but it's one of those unknown factors that you simply don't know. The good news is that area was reasonably flat, so it didn't have huge changes in terrain."

This was done unbolting a piece on their cisterns installed by the Co-op allowing water to flow freely. The first offence for tampering with the water system is a minimum fine of $1000 plus administration fees and the cost of any water taken from the system in addition to losing their water service for 6 months.

Nordstrum added "there's no need for tampering, service calls are free we don't charge members for coming out if they're not getting the amount of water that they're supposed to be getting, the service call to remedy that is absolutely free.”

m.moore@watertoday.ca









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