There was some welcome news for all residents of Prince Rupert at mid afternoon Friday, as the City announced that the all clear has been delivered by Northern Health when it comes to the Water Quality Advisory, the lower grade advisory that was put in place January 25th following the end of the Boil Water Advisory of December and early January.
The notice today sends word that we can now once again show confidence as we drink from our taps, with no need for hesitation as to the quality of the water, or any impact it may have on those with medical concerns such as compromised immune issues.
The key element of the statement issued this afternoon outlined the nature of the testing process and what Mayor Lee Brain described as the "false positives" that the early testing provided.
Following accuracy testing of results initiated during the Notice it was also discovered through comparative testing that the original December test showing a result for Cryptosporidium is most likely a false positive. Initial test results were sent to the lab used by the City for many years, however this particular form of protozoa testing requires more advanced skill to identify.
Under advice from the City’s engineering consultant, the City began sending additional samples to an accredited microbiology lab that specializes in Giardia and Cryptosporidium in Alberta for analysis shortly after the Notice was issued.
This facility is known to Health Canada and nationwide for their advanced research equipment and highly skilled staff. Since initiating testing with this laboratory, the results from this facility showed no signs of Cryptosporidium and recorded levels of Giardia that are well-within treatable limits given the City’s available chlorination treatment system.
As the statement notes, the testing program was transferred over to an Alberta facility which had a more specialized testing process.
Though the statement does not indicate when that decision was made, or how long it took for the city to decide to seek out the second opinion.
Northern Health Medical Officer Dr. Rakel Kling also noted that moving forward, the City and Northern Health will continue to work collaboratively towards the issue.
“The shared intention of both the City and Northern Health is to protect residents’ health. We continue to work collaboratively with to ensure residents can have confidence in the municipal water supply.”
The full statement removing the Water Advisory is available here.
Links to a number of past reports and more background on the city's drinking water can be explored here.
As part of today's announcement, the city also released the background to their after incident report, which was requested by Council as a follow up to the civic response to the then two month incident.
Among the range of material that the report offers up, there is a review of the course of events during the period of the incident and the actions that were taken as a result.
For Prince Rupert residents the most important passage will be the Lessons Learned - Action Plan which explores what the City will follow up on in the wake of the events of the last three months
The City has not had a Boil Water Notice on a community-wide scale in a decade or more. This incident has prompted renewed attention and care to our internal procedures. The City in conjunction with Northern Health are reviewing the following:
Looking to develop a procedure to address the needs of those with confirmed compromised immune systems in Prince Rupert
Revise the City’s water testing regime
Additional tributary analysis for animal activity in the watershed
Review of primary watershed
Complete a water security exercise to evaluate risk
Complete Value Engineering for the community water treatment facility
Continued discussions with Northern Health and Health Canada
The full report can be reviewed here.
You can review the path from the Boil Order Notice of mid January, to today's deliverance from any lingering doubts from our archive page here.
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