The City of Trail and Interior Health issued a water quality advisory to homes and businesses in the Waneta Junction area this week. (Sheri Regnier photo)

Water quality advisory issued for Waneta Junction

Low level coliform bacteria were detected within the Green Gables reservoir distribution system.

Homes and businesses in Waneta Junction were issued a water quality advisory on Tuesday.

Low level coliform bacteria were detected within the Green Gables reservoir distribution system, located above Trail Canadian Tire, which services over 60 properties along Highway 22A.

The City of Trail and Interior Health advises those with weakened or immature immunity to boil water for at least one minute, and exercise precautions when drinking, washing produce, making beverages and ice, or when brushing teeth.

The advisory remains in effect until further notice.

A water quality advisory indicates a level of risk associated with consuming drinking water, but the conditions do not warrant a boil water notice or do-not-use water notice.

“It should be noted the level of coliform count is very low, five and below,” confirmed Chris McIsaac, director of Trail public works.

“It’s just a water quality advisory on right now … not a boil water notice …,” he clarified. “Just in case somebody does have a compromised immune system (or young children) they might want to boil water or use a bottled water source.”

In water, coliform bacteria have no taste, smell, or colour, and can only be detected through a laboratory test. Although Green Gables is testing low, the advisory is in place because the Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guideline for total coliforms is none detectable per 100 mL.

Three reservoirs, including Green Gables, pull and store water from the Bear Creek Well, located just off Highway 3B near the city’s RV Park.

Notably, the water itself is not the source of bacteria – the other reservoirs are presently clear.

“We sample that whole area weekly,” McIsaac explained. “It’s not the water coming out of the well that is the problem, there’s coliform in the Green Gables reservoir or in the distribution system below the reservoir – it’s not coming out of the well.”

Public works will be flushing respective mains with chlorine while the city investigates where the coliform originates.

“We are going to do some research in the next week or two and hopefully narrow down the source,” McIsaac said. “The thought right now is that there is bacterial grown on the pipe walls and in the spring time when the temperature changes, you get a biggest draw on the water system,” he added.

“That increases the velocity of the water coming through the pipe, pulls a little bit of that bacterial growth away from the wall, and it gets distributed.”

Once the system is flushed, the city will pull samples to send for testing at a certified lab.

McIsaac added, “By Monday or on Monday, we should have an answer.”

Commonly used as an indicator of sanitary quality of foods and water, coliforms are a rod-shaped Gram-negative bacteria.

Coliforms can be found in the aquatic environment, in soil and on vegetation, and are universally present in large numbers in the feces of warm-blooded animals. Generally, coliforms themselves are not normally causes of serious illness, but they are easy to culture, and their presence is used to indicate that other pathogenic organisms of fecal origin may be present. Such pathogens include disease-causing bacteria, viruses, or protozoa and many multicellular parasites.

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