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Water Today Title December 15, 2017

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What are water co-ops? - 7 Co-ops under BWA in the Moose Jaw area


Low Chlorine levels? "We drink it anyway"
Today's BWA of the day takes us to outlying communities surrounding the city of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Here small groupings of houses and farms have come together to form water cooperatives for the purpose of receiving funding from federal and provincial government to extend water mains from Moosejaw to their homes. They each have water meters and pay the city for their water. 7 of these communities have ongoing provincially declared Precautionary Drinking Water Advisories (PDWA) that range in duration from December 2011 to November 2005. We spoke with Scott Johnstone who sits on the board for the Water Co-op of Caribou West. He explained that the PDWA is because the water chlorine levels aren't up to provincial standards. Apparently the chlorination of the water, which is done at Moose Jaws pumping station, dissipates by the time it reaches the Co-op. Johnstone wasn't concerned and said that his family drinks the water anyway.

We contacted the Saskatchewan's ministry of Environment to clear up the distinction between a precautionary water advisory and an emergency water order. It turns out that the distinction for a precautionary advisory is that "the province wants to communicate to consumers their potential concerns that their drinking water is not to provincial standards." The highest occurring instances of PDWA are depressurization of pipelines and low chlorine content for systems that reach out to rural consumers. Sam Ferris the executive director - municipal branch for Environment Saskatchewan explained this to us today. I asked him if he would drink water that was under a precautionary advisory, as in Caribou West water co- op, he told us: "I wouldn't drink it."

The good news for Scott and the other co-ops surrounding Moose Jaw is that new pumping stations to fix the lack of chlorination are underway and soon their water will be up to standards.

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