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LOON LAKE COMMUNITY, BC: INTERIOR BC FIRES FORCE SHUT DOWN OF LOCAL WATER TREATMENT PLANT
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Loon Lake Community Water System has been put on a boil water notice (BWN) indefinitely as a result of a forest fire.
The BWN was declared on July 14 after power and phone lines outages rendered the system inoperable.
The customers that the system services have been evacuated from their homes, so lack of potable water is probably not priority number one for them at the moment.
"We had notice on late Thursday or early Friday that there was a good chance they were going to evacuate the area," said Arden Bolton, the Utilities Manager for the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, "The winds came up on Friday afternoon and there was an emergency evacuation of the people. Around the same time we got a call that the power went out from the pump house. As soon as the power goes out the PLC (programmable logic controller) calls us with a message saying that there's a power failure at the site. I got the phone call originally, which meant the phone lines were still intact, but they went down shortly after and issuing the boil water notice was a no brainer after that. No power, no communication and no one to take care of it."
According to Bolton, Loon Lake is comprised of mostly vacation properties and the water system services around 40 homes during peak season, which is around now. As there is an evacuation order present however, no customers are being affected at present.
That being said, there is a chance users might still be without water once the evacuation order has been rescinded.
Bolton said that fire fighters have checked out the area recently and that it appears the homes in question as well as the treatment facility are still undamaged. Loon Lake itself is filled with debris and charcoal though as houses and forest further down the 13km long lake have been burned.
Once it has been established that it is safe for non-firefighting personnel to enter the area, BC Hydro and the telephone company will need to get the area hooked up for power and communication.
Soon after the Loon Lake Community Water System operators will be able to go back to the site and flush the reservoir, then flush the system and begin pumping water into the system using an infiltration gallery, which is a shallow well, drilled into sandy soil that filters water through the ground, eliminating the charcoal and debris mentioned earlier.
They will super chlorinate the system and start the testing process. If all goes well, BC Interior Health will give the sign off to remove the BWN.
There have been over 700 wildfires this season in BC that have burned over 350,000 hectares of land.
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