UPDATE: Hedley residents will be without water for at least one week

Elevated levels of coliform and arsenic leave small town dry

  • Dec. 9, 2018 5:05 p.m.

It will be at least one week, and possibly longer, before Hedley residents can drink their water, according to the health authority.

A do not consume order was delivered to residents in the community Saturday, following a significant spike in coliform levels in the Hedley Improvement District Water System.

There are 240 people living in Hedley.

Rob Birtles, environmental health officer for Interior Health who also leads the small water infrastructure program, said under simpler circumstances a water boil advisory would have been issued after the December 4 test results were returned.

However because Hedley water also has higher than acceptable levels of arsenic – and has been under a water advisory notice for that issue since July – the water simply isn’t safe.

“It’s two issues really,” he said in an interview Sunday with Black Press, noting that concentrations of arsenic can increase if water is boiled for a long period of time.

He said the current arsenic levels in Hedley water are “just above” acceptable levels, 0.020 milligrams per litre compared to the allowable amount of 0.010 milligrams per litre

The dramatic increase in coliform levels could be the result of a break in a water line, he said. Alternatively the source could be a malfunction in a home or business that caused water to be reversed into the system.

The Interior Health samples taken on Dec. 4 at the pump house showed a count of 260 CFU per 100 millilitres. By comparison, the Nov. 6 sample at the same location showed a count of less than one.

“Obviously we need more investigation and further testing,” said Birtles.

The system will be inspected Monday, said Birtles, and will have to possibly be repaired, flushed, and then tested for two consecutive days.

Comments on social media, after Black Press reported the story earlier today, expressed concern that it took three days for the do not consume order to be issued.

However Birtles said it always takes three days to receive test results as the samples must be transported to a laboratory.

Birtles said that while coliform can be an indicator of e-coli, the samples tested negative for that bacteria. It means whatever is contaminating the water is vegetative.

He explained that coliform levels are tested, not for pathogens, but to indentify a problem with a system.

No one has reported falling ill from consuming the water, he said.

“The advice I give to people is if they feel ill they should seek help from their physicians.”

*************************

Residents of Hedley are being told not to drink the water coming out of their taps.

The Interior Health Authority has issued a do not consume order, meaning the water can not be made safe by boiling it. If you swallow the water you could become sick.

The warning comes after samples taken from the Hedley Improvement District Water System at the pump house and another sampling location on Scott Avenue showed unacceptable levels of coliform.

According to the Interior Health, samples taken on Dec. 4 at the pump house showed a count of 260 CFU per 100 millilitres. By comparison, the Nov. 6 sample at the same location showed a count of less than one.

Interior Health said the water should not be drunk, used to brush teeth, used to prepare food or be given to pets. The water can still be used for cleaning, watering plants or showering.


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
Email me or message me on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

Just Posted

PHOTOS: What makes a winning Caesar?

Three local bartenders competed to make the best Caesar in Penticton

Festival goers at the 27th annual Roots and Blues Festival

The Observer asked: Where are you from and what brought you to the festival?

OHA alumna welcomed as new assistant coach for women’s varsity team

Alyssa MacMillan attended OHA from 2011 to 2016

Celebrate harvest at the Naramata Tailgate Party

30 wineries will be offering tastings at the Naramata Heritage Inn on Sept. 14

15-year-old boy drowns after midnight jump into Okangan Lake

The RCMP and BC Coroners Service are investigating the drowning.

Osoyoos woman who threatened mom and baby with butcher knife sentenced

Sharon Constance Forner pleaded guilty to one criminal charge and was sentenced

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Okanagan climate advocacy group protests against Tolko

Group to demonstrate outside Vernon head office Monday over plan to log close to water supply

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Okanagan Cultural Connections live venue tour kicks off in Vernon

Two dozen promoters, national booking agents, and music reps to visit venues from Vernon to Oliver

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Mistake-riddled offence leads to first loss for Okanagan Sun

The Sun lost to the Westshore Rebels 16-13

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Fire departments extinguish suspicious wildfire near West Kelowna

Crews established a fire guard and knocked down the blaze before it grew to one hectare.

Most Read