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Water Today Title July 7, 2022

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Advisory of the Day



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The New Brunswick Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health issued a Boil Water Advisory (BWA) for the village of Fredericton Junction on Monday, October 30, 2017 due to the presence of E. coli in the well.

The village is located on the Oromocto River in the western part of Sunbury County, 45 km from the city of Fredericton. It has a population of 704 inhabitants. Roughly 200 people use the municipal water system that is currently contaminated.

In a phone interview, Mayor Gary Mersereau explained that they have two wells in the village that are tested frequently; "each week we do one spot and then move to another, by the end of the month we've tested the whole system. One of the samples came back for Coliforms, which is a sign that something is wrong, so we did more tests and one well showed positive for E. coli." The contaminated sample was taken on Thursday, October 26, but the test results did not come back until Monday, October 30.

Upon receiving those results, users of municipal water services were advised "to procure water from an alternate safe source or to boil the water for one minute." The BWA was published on the village website and Facebook page. An elder care facility, school, daycare, and clinic in the area affected by the BWA were all contacted by phone directly. The municipality also went door to door to pass out notices.

Residents are advised to boil water for at least one minute or use bottled water. This includes water being used for drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, washing fruits and vegetables and preparing infant formulas.

People who drink water contaminated with E. coli can suffer from mild fever, vomiting, abdominal pain and/or diarrhea. When asked if anyone had gotten sick before the news of the BWA could reach them Mayor Mersereau said "to our knowledge, we've heard of one individual in one family who was apparently affected by it. They went to the doctor and the doctor said it was E. coli, but they are now in good health."

He further explained that they had not had any significant rainfall since July 4th and that their engineers had suggested that residents should limit their consumption of water. On October 24, prior to the BWA a notice was issued to residents concerning a water shortage issue. The statement reads "our new well has reached the minimum level whereby it shuts off due to a shortage of water. It must then recharge before it can be turned on again. In order to protect the municipal water system as well as your private wells, we are now requesting that all residents and businesses start/continue conserving water."

The next day there was a heavy rainfall warning in effect for the area. It is speculated that heavy rain following many months of drought is what led to the contamination.

On Tuesday, October 31 subsequent samples tested showed positive for Total Coliforms, and E. coli as well as an increased heterotrophic plate count (HPC). Mayor Mersereau said that today "[they] were flushing the line and [took] more samples. I drove them in today to see if we have the line and the distribution system cleared, I drove them to Fredericton to be tested."

According to Health Canada's Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, standards for both E. coli and Total Coliforms are the same, counts of 0/100ml. Health Canada explains that "unexpected increases in the HPC baseline range could indicate a change in the treatment process, a disruption or contamination in the distribution system, or a change in the general bacteriological quality of the water."

The BWA issued by the village council states that "council and staff continue to work with personnel of the Department of Health on an ongoing basis. Please be assured that you will be kept informed of any further developments and remediation initiatives being taken to rectify the water quality problem at this time."

Mayor Mersereau said that generally results from water samples are received the following day. If the samples taken today show up negative, another set will need to show the same results before the Department of Health can lift the BWA. Mayor Mersereau said "it's possible we could have it lifted by Friday but it remains to be seen. It would be nice."

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