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Boil water advisory passes after positive test

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Dauphin’s water is safe to drink. The 24-hour boil water advisory appears to have been a matter of samples testing positive for coliform.
Bill Brenner, director of public works and operations confirmed his department has determined there was no issue with city water. As a result, he said, public works is looking outside city operations to determine what the problem was.
Brenner explained, regular bacteriological test samples were taken Oct. 30 and submitted to the lab for testing.
“Late yesterday (Nov. 1) afternoon we received a call from the lab advising us that there was some coliform results on all of our samples, which is very strange,” he said.
Brenner contacted the Office of Drinking Water for direction on how to proceed and that evening was informed a precautionary boil water advisory was required.
“That notice went out as soon as we received it from them and we tried to contact as many people as possible, to get the word out,” he said.
All public water systems must do bacteriological testing every two weeks, Brenner said, and must to be submitted to an independent lab to test for both total coliforms and E.coli.
“So we had a very small amount of total coliforms and there was no E.coli. So there’s no concerns with E. coli, but as a precautionary measure, we wanted everybody to boil their water. What the total coliforms tell us is that there could be a problem with our water,” he explained.
Brenner explained coliforms are bacteria.
“There’s multiple types of coliforms and most coliforms are not harmful to humans. We have coliforms in our gut all the time, all mammals do. There is also coliform bacteria that are in soil and in water and like I said, 99 percent of them are not harmful to humans, but there are some,” he said.
“We test for them, because it gives us an indicator that there might be a problem in our water system. Coliforms means that our disinfection isn’t working properly or something is amiss.”
Public works has not had any issues at the water treatment plant, Brenner said.
“Everything has been operating normal, so this was totally unexpected. We would not have normally expected to have these results come back,” he added.
Another set of water samples were sent Nov. 2, Brenner said, as the boil water advisory would not be removed, until two more samples come back negative.
Normal test results are completed in 48 hours, he said, but under a rush the lab can give the city preliminary results within 24 hours.
As of noon, Nov. 3, the precautionary boil water advisory was rescinded by the Medical Officer of Health, Manitoba Health.
City Hall had about a dozen calls Friday morning, Brenner said, asking questions, looking for advice.
The situation stirred memories of when a boil water advisory was issued for the community in 1993, following an outbreak of giardia, or beaver fever as it is commonly known.
The beaver fever outbreak was totally different, Brenner said, explaining the culprit in 1993 was giardia, which was not in the sample.
Dauphinites have been recently commenting on how city water has been tasting more earthy.
Brenner explained the city treats surface water, which comes out Riding Mountain National Park.
“Currently we’re treating water that’s coming out of Edwards Lake. Historically, or for the last 20 years, the majority of the time we are treating water that comes out of the Vermillion River,” he noted.
“All that water contains organics and we do not distill water, we do not remove everything from the water. We treat the water to make sure that there’s nothing harmful in the water. So you will still have organic material in there.”
Brenner pointed out the treated water will have bacteria that is not normally harmful to people and every community treating surface water has the same issue.
“So because we don’t remove 100 percent of organics in our process, you will get those earthy smells, those earthy tastes, It’s just naturally occurring stuff in the water. Summer time, obviously, you have more organics in the water than you do in the wintertime,” he added.

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M. A. Nyquist
REPORTER
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