Asvisory of the Day
OOTSA LAKE, BC: LOCAL RESIDENTS WON'T PAY FOR DISINFECTION TO REMOVE LONG STANDING WATER ADVISORY, BC
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A boil water notice (BWN) has been in effect for those serviced by the Ootsa Lake Community Water System in central British Columbia since September 2007.
According to BC's Northern Health Unit's website, the system, which draws water from a nearby lake was built without adequate disinfection equipment.
It goes on to mention that the residents appear unconcerned about the lack of potable water and that there is little chance of public exposure to the water beyond the residents themselves.
Northern Health has warned the residents of the non-potability of the drinking water due to the presence of coliform bacteria.
In addition, water system operators have been advised to apply for a construction permit to install disinfection equipment as well as what equipment would be needed to bring the system up to code.
"For the vast majority of boil water notices, we work collaboratively with a cooperative operator. Our typical process when advisories of this kind are not heeded is to follow a route of progressive enforcement with the operator in order remove the boil water notice in a safe and timely manner," said Andrea Palmer, a spokesperson for Northern Health in an email to this reporter, " If the operator is not cooperative, the Environmental Health Officer may be required to issue an order and/or ticket. If this enforcement route is still not successful, court action may be required. However, in this particular case, there is no specified operator or owner of the water system, which complicates enforcement."
As it turns out, the water system was a gift to the users from the Canadian mining company, Alcan. While they funded the distribution system, society members were expected to use their own money to install a treatment system. However, since all the users of the water system are private homeowners and there is no specified operator for the water system, it is difficult to order all the independent users to install water treatment, especially considering there is a lack of funds available.
"The risks of drinking untreated surface water were communicated to the water users," said Palmer, adding, "Recent users are content with the status of the water system and have accepted the risks associated with the water system. Communications with the water users is ongoing and action will be taken to address any concerns if they are brought forth by the water users."
As it stands the present water system is non-conforming to the Drinking Water Protection Act and the BWN will remain in place.
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