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Water Today Title November 20, 2017

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Dailies - Today in Water

Update 8/2/14
Blue-green algae


The city of Toledo released an urgent notice to all Toledo water users overnight. The city is asking anyone who receives water from Toledo to avoid drinking or boiling the water. This warning also affects people in Lucas County and parts of Michigan. Some 400,000 people are affected.

Chemists testing water at Toledo's Collins Park Water Treatment Plant tested for microcystin in excess of the recommended amount. Health officials are advising businesses who use water to treat this like a level 3 snow emergency and remain closed.

Lake Erie, which is a source of drinking water for the Toledo water system may have been impacted by a harmful algal bloom (HAB). These organisms are capable of producing a number of toxins that may pose a risk to human and animal health. HABs occur when excess nitrogen and phosphorus are present in lakes and streams. Such nutrients can come from runoff of over-fertilized fields and lawns, from malfunctioning septic systems and from livestock pens.

"Microcystins are toxins produced by cyanobacteria - also known as blue-green algae. When released, toxins may persist for weeks to months. While the liver is the primary target of microcystins, it is also a skin, eye and throat irritant."
U.S. EPA website

Update 10:22 pm EST
EPA tests delayed for nine hours

Update 5:00 pm EST
According to the Toledo Free Press, a number of area businesses are closed as a result of the advisory. Toledo Zoo, Toledo Lucas-County Public Libraries and University of Toledo (UT) are closed. All non-health care functions for UT have been cancelled.

Captain Jeff Hibbard has been giving out potable water all day at the Whitehouse Village Fire Station about 20 miles southwest of Toledo; he will be doing so until 11:00 pm tonight, and from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm tomorrow. All area stores are out of water and many residents were caught unaware since the advisory was issued at 1:00 am in the morning.

"Each family has to bring their own jugs and they get five gallons of water at a time," he says, "then you have to go to end of line if you want another fill up."

Close to 100 fire stations in Lucas County are distributing water. Residents have been told they will be all right unless they start having diarrhea.

At the downtown Stop & Go on Lagrange St, there is no bottled water left at all. The clerk, who wished to remain anonymous, allowed that they were hoping to get more water soon and that it would be coming from Michigan.

"Everything is closed because of the water, and the toilets cannot be flushed" says Lindsay who works right downtown at the Ice Restaurant & Bar on Madison Avenue. "I am sick and there is no one in authority around so I am getting my information from the news. They are supposed to announce the results of new tests around 6:00 pm."

According to Lindsay, all the stores are out of bottled water and people are going to folks with wells. "We are being advised to stay away from the hospitals because there is nothing you can do," she says.

Update 8/4/14
Blue-green algae


At a 9:30 a.m. news conference, Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins announced that the advisory was lifted and all water safe to drink

The City of Toledo shared instructions for how to flush plumbing appliances, if they had not been used since Friday. You will find them at the Toledo Free Press

Update 8/1/14
BwA of the day


When a fire hydrant exploded in Angusville, MB last March it was 50 degrees below zero and the emergency crews decided to by-pass it until more clement weather prevailed; they would have had to dig 10' down in frozen ground as the water lines had shifted and, since there was fire protection from the other side of the street, it was agreed to postpone the work until summer.

"Because the crews could not circuit around a valve that had seized, the system had to be depressurized for about 6 hours, so as a precaution we issued a boil water advisory," says Chief Administrative Office, Cheryl Melnyk.

"Two sets of water samples have been sent to Winnipeg for analysis but because of the long weekend, the BWA will more than likely last until late next week. It takes a day just to get them to Winnipeg," she says.

According to Melnyk, the BWA affects 125 people who were advised by door-to-door notices. "The advisory is taken seriously," says Melnyk, "just today I got 10 to 15 calls asking about it."

Angusville is a small community located in the Rural Municipality of Silver Creek, northwest of Brandon. The RM is a farming community with production in grain and cattle, and a u-pick saskatoon berry farm. Angusville's Ukrainian heritage is evident in the onion domes of the Ivan Franco Ukrainian Peoples Hall which has been designated a Provincial Heritage Site.

Update 7/30/14


Ok, so no pathogens, chemicals or contaminants were found in the water of Trois-Rivières, all tests came back clean and the BWA is lifted. End of story? Perhaps not.

It's hard not to imagine the worse when a water reservoir is tampered with. Could it have beeen an act of terrorism, a test to evaluate the quality and rapidity of response for future acts of terrrorism? Sounds a bit far fetched, but who knows

We called the RCMP in Trois-Rivières who basically said they did not have the investigators available to look into this and that our best bet was to call the Trois-Rivières Police who was in charge of the investigation.

"Whoa, lets not jump to conclusions," says media relations spopkesperson, Carole Arbelot. "More likely it was someone looking to break something for the fun of it. We have no suspects, and no clue yet as to what prompted someone to break and enter a water reservoir, could even be the person(s) did not know what they were breaking into. The case is still open."

According to Arbelot the possibility of an act of terrrorism was not dismissed but neither is it endorsed at this point.

Update 7/29/14


Officials in Trois-Rivières are baffled as to why one of the trap doors of the Saint-Louis-de-France water reservoir was tampered with last Sunday night.

"All our reservoirs have trap doors equipped with padlocks and alarms,"says water operator Josué Vallières." Whoever it was, pranksters or vandals, broke the lock and triggered the alarm on one of them; we have no idea why exactly, maybe someone looking for metal to sell".

A precautionary boil water advisory was issued in case bacteria or chemicals were added to the potable water. "We have not yet received the tests results from Bio-Lab, they should be in later today, but our own analysis indicates that no foreign element was introduced into the water," he says.

According to Vallières, the advisory affects only a sector of Saint-Louis-de-France, about 1,800 people. All of them were notified by automatic calling.

Trois-Rivières is located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, approximately halfway between Montreal and Quebec City. It was founded on July 4, 1634, the second permanent settlement in New France, after Quebec City in 1608.

Update 7/28/14


In late June southern Saskatchewan was flooded after being deluged by over 175 mm of rain; a month later life in the little town of Gainsborough has yet to return to normal. The June flooding washed away roads, filled drainage systems and overran wells forcing many to evacuate. 74 Saskatchewan communities including Gainsborough declared a state of emergency.

On July 2, precautionary boil water advisories were issued for the wells serving the Gainsborough Community, Campground, Happy Hours Club, Housing Authority, Library, Rink Concession, Swimming Pool, Fine Foods, Riverside Hotel and Allen Henderson Slaughter. Today, they are still in effect.

Tori Mallow works at the Gainsborough Swimming pool where she teaches kids to swim. She lives in Pierson just over the border in Manitoba about 14 km away. She hopes the pool will re-open in a week or so.

"The town has no sewers, they're all using porta potties," she says. "Most people are drinking bottled water and the credit union and stores are only open for a couple of hours a day".

According to Mallow, the town is still unde evacuation order, but she figures life will almost come back to normal in a week.
Gainsborough is a small farming community located on Highway 18 in the southeastern corner of Saskatchewan. The corner-most community in the province, it is approximately 4 miles from the Manitoba border, and 12 miles from the North Dakota and United States border.

Update 7/24/14


Kudos to the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge Health Unit (HKPR) for posting water advisories issued to Small Drinking Water Systems (SDWS) on their website. For years, out of the 36 health units across Ontario, only the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) published water advisories that occur in restaurants, local stores, daycares, residences, trailer parks and other SDWS. Yet most of the drinking water issues happen in these small systems.

While you might not care that much about a boil water advisory at The Local Restaurant in Dunsford or the St. Andrew's United Church Hall, if there was bacterial contamination at your child's daycare or your mum's retirement home, you might want this information to be public knowledge.

According to a 2009 Health Ontario report there were 4,458 water advisories (or as they say in Ontario 'adverse water quality incidents') issued for SDWS across the province. Now we know about a few of them. Hats off to HKPR and EOHU. Transparency is the only way out.

A bit about SDWS
On December 1, 2008, responsibility for the oversight of Small Drinking Water Systems (SDWS) in Ontario was transferred from the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC).
SDWs under O.Reg 170/03 include:
Large non-municipal non-residential systems that serve designated facilities; small non-municipal non-residential systems that serve designated facilities; non-municipal year-round residential systems; Non-municipal seasonal residential systems that serve designated facilities.
Designated facilities refer to buildings and places for people who may be more susceptible to illness from drinking water of poor quality including: daycares, children's camps, health care facilities, schools and private schools, social care facilities, universities or colleges.
SDWS under O. Reg 252/05 include:
non residential and non municipal seasonal residential systems that do not serve designated facilities.

Related WaterToday story
Canada, a patchwork of BWAs

Update 7/22/14
BWA of the day


This week saw the first ever boil water advisory from a non-municipal water system in Northern Québec. Outfitter Mirage Aventure sits at Km 358 of the Trans-Taiga Rd in Eeyou Istchee, a Cree word meaning "The People's Land". Four municipalities and three villages dot the region which is represented by the Grand Council of the Crees. Mirage is located on Lac Rosée, which is adjacent to the James Bay La Grande-4 Reservoir. A chlorinated well water system feeds the resort's lodge.

"There was a pump failure on July 18 causing the system to lose pressure, so we had to issue a boil water advisory" says owner, Marie-Anne Aubin. "Our first water samples were sent to Bio-Lab in Chicoutimi by Hydro-Québec plane, and two more will be sent later on this week."

According to Aubin, without a landing strip and access to Hydro-Québec's plane service, the water samples would no longer be valid once they reached the lab, because of the long travel delay.

"Luckily our peak season is in the winter so there are only 15 guests in the lodge at the moment", she says. Guests are provided with bottled water and all water used for cooking is boiled.

Update 7/16/14
BWA of the day


E.coli was detected in the drinking water system of Irishtown-Summerside on July 11. This is the 11th boil water advisory for the town since we started monitoring them in 2006 and the 3rd E.coli contamination.

"This time is only affects one side of town," says town clerk Rita Blanchard, "The water is fine in Isrishtwon. We had low chlorine in Summerside on Friday so we issued a BWA, just to be on the safe side. The chlorine readings are good right now". According to Blanchard, most town folk drink spring water anyway, "Don't know if it's safer but most people here prefer it".

When we spoke with Rita back in January, she allowed that the system needed a chlorine booster and that one was being installed in the spring. "Work should start on it soon," she says. "Hopefully when it's up, things will be better." Spring comes late in Newfoundland.

Update 7/14/14
First Nation Water


After a seven year hiatus, during which Health Canada only published the number of First Nation water advisories across Canada, the Department recently released the names of each First Nation community under drinking water advisory (DWA). Having openly deplored this lack of transparency, WaterToday can only applaud this new policy. The new data has now been input on our WaterToday maps replacing the previous information which was taken from a 2010 Access to Information request.

While the new information released by Health Canada is more specific as to which specific systems are under advisory and how many people are affected, the department no longer list the reasons for issuing the DWAs. Where advisories were listed in the same community and at the same date we left the reason that was provided by Health Canada under the ATIP request.

As of May 31st, 2014 there were 130 DWAs in 91 First Nation communities across Canada excluding British Columbia.

As part of the British Columbia Tripartite Framework Agreement on First Nation Health Governance, on October 1st 2013, Health Canada transferred its role in the design, management, and delivery of First Nations health programming in British Columbia to the new First Nations Health Authority (FNHA). As a result, Health Canada no longer reports drinking water advisories in BC First Nations.

Update 7/10/14
Water Shortage


On July 7, all residents of the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD), including Duncan and Lady Smith, were asked to comply with stage 2 water restrictions, due to concerns over low snow pack, low rainfall and a projected dry summer.

According to a June 15 bulletin put out by British Columbia's Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, "stream flows have dropped to below or well-below normal levels (20-80%) on Vancouver Island, and watersheds are particularly vulnerable to low flows from hot and dry summer weather, because of the low snow packs this year."

In fact, if we understand it correctly, data from the related Snow Survey put out by the Ministry indicates that the snow water equivalent for Wolf River and Jump Creek are at 0% and 1% of their normal.

"That is how I would read that as well although I am not an expert on this. I do know they are already transporting fish to help them get to the spawning grounds." says Sybille Sanderson, CVRD, Public Safety Division in an email to WaterToday .

Although water restrictions are nothing new to British Columbians, stage 2 restrictions are. Watering is only allowed two days a week between certain hours, depending on your address, under stage 2 restrictions.

"It is unusual", says Louise Knodel-Joy, Senior Engineering Technologist, CVRD. "All the local communities decided to team up and issue these precautionary measures because the water levels are particularly low this year"

Over at the city of Duncan, Director of Public Works Abbas Farahbakhsh says "I have been here for six years and we've never gone to stage 2. I've been told that the water levels in Cowichan Lake are at their lowest in years".

The restrictions affect about 14,000 people.

Update 7/7/14
BWA of the day


E.coli was found in water samples sent from a well in Piopolis, Qc on July 4. The well which does not usually require any treatment or chlorine, serves 68 of the village's 350 residents. The Piopolis' general manager, Karine Bonneau says " we don't know yet whether the bacteria is in the whole system or only in the well". All residents were called to be notified of the boil water advisory and notices were hand delivered to those residents who could not be reached.

Piopolis was founded in 1871 on the west bank of Lake Mégantic by Papal Zouaves who had been given land or concessions by the papacy as a reward for loyalty. The Papal Zouaves were mainly young men, unmarried and Roman Catholic, who volunteered to assist Pope Pius IX in his struggle against the Italian unification. Between 1868 and 1870 the number of Canadian volunteers, mainly from the predominantly Catholic province of Québec, rose to seven contingents numbering some 500 men in total.

Update 7/3/14


Our hats go off to Saskatchewan for the best water advisory reporting in Canada. The province has been pounded by harsh weather for months; frigid temperatures, high winds, walloping snow storms, you name it. Now, 54 communities in Saskatchewan have had to declare a state of emergency due to severe flooding caused by torrential rains.

Yet throughout it all, Sask H2O never misses a beat, posting water advisories in detail almost faster than we can keep up. From frozen pipes to water main breaks to power outages and flooded wells, the water systems in Saskatchewan communities have been literally battered, and each and every advisory is reported as it happens, even on weekends and holidays.

Today in Gainsborough, a small farming community in the southeast under a state of emergency, water advisories have been issued for the flooded community well, the campground, the housing authority, the Happy Hours Club, the library, the rink the swimming pool and the Riverside Hotel. That's information. Hats off.

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