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Water Today Title January 27, 2021

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Advisory of the day



This story is brought to you in part by Borrum Energy Solutions

The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer of the Northwest Territories issued a precautionary Boil Water Advisory for all residents in Hay River, K'atl'odeeche First Nation, Enterprise and Kakisa, on May 17.

The reason for the advisory is the higher than normal turbidity in the water coming from Great Slave Lake.

The notice distributed to residents highlights the precautionary nature of the advisory and informs, "There have been no illnesses associated with drinking water reported in the community."

"The water tests do not show any bacterial contamination," said Peter Workman, Chief Environmental Health Officer. "It is a precautionary advisory due to the fact that we can't guarantee that the chlorination will treat and ensure that there isn't any bacteria present because of the high level of turbidity".

High turbidity in water is a concern because turbidity particles may interfere in the treatment of water by reducing the exposure of microbes to disinfectants.

The high water turbidity level at Great Slave Lake is a seasonal occurrence related to the spring melt and the break up of the ice. The last time the Department of Health and Social Services had to issue a Boil Water Advisory due to high turbidity levels for the Hay River water plant was 2011, explained Workman.

The Hay River water plant uses a conventional water treatment system consisting of coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration and chlorination. In the 2014, 2015, 2016-year period the plant had a 100% compliance rate in its required yearly 48 Treated Water Bacteria tests.

Residents are required to bring tap water to a rolling boil for at least a minute. Alternatives to boiling water include using bottled water or water that has been processed by one of the following methods: Distillation, reverse osmosis, filter water using a 1 micron absolute or less filter size.

The advisory warns residents not to use "Brita" type drinking water filters. These filters use activated carbon filters that do not disinfect the water.

Because the advisory depends on the turbidity level of the water coming from Great Slave Lake it is not possible to estimate when the Boil Water Advisory will be lifted.

"The advisory will be lifted when the turbidity level is sufficiently reduced so the plant can treat to the appropriate level and make sure there is no turbidity in the treated water, " explained Workman. "It can be a few days, it can be a weeks. It is out of my control."

The Chief Environmental Health Officer, in collaboration with officials from the Town of Hay River, will continue to monitor the situation. Once the advisory is lifted, a notice will be delivered to residents in the affected communities.


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