Boil-water order lifted at school

Students and staff at Our Lady of the Way School in Stratton once again can drink the water after the boil-water advisory in place there was lifted Friday.
“Things are looking good,” Chris Howarth, superintendent of business for the Northwest District Catholic School Board, said Tuesday.
The Northwestern Health Unit lifted the boil-water advisory after receiving two consecutive clean water tests. The school since received another clear test this week.
“I think that it takes a lot of pressure off of staff and students and the school,” Howarth said. “People can at least wash their hands now at the school.”
Howarth said everyone is holding their breath, hoping this marks the end of the water woes that have plagued the school for the last year-and-a-half.
“We are optimistic,” he remarked. “I wouldn’t say they definitely have [ended] yet. Only time will tell.”
Things took a turn for the better last week after a Thunder Bay water systems specialist advised school staff that they had been mislead as to how much chlorine should be used in the new filtration system.
It was discovered the amount previously advised was not high enough to rid the water of all bacteria.
But even though things seem to be working now, Howarth stressed everyone will continue to keep a close watch on the system.
“Just because it is solved now doesn’t mean we can ignore it. We will keep working at it,” he said.
OLW principal David Sharp was overjoyed to hear the boil-water advisory had been lifted.
Sharp said there were a number of little ways in which it affected students and staff—everything from not being able to wash their hands to having to boil the water before doing dishes in the staff room.
“I was talking to the Grade 7 and 8 class and they said that they could wash up their brushes and stuff now,” he added.
While there were inconveniences, Sharp noted ensuring the water was safe to drink was always their chief concern. “At no point was the students’ and staff’s health compromised and that is the bottom line,” he stressed.
Sharp isn’t expecting a repeat of their water woes now that the new system is working.
“We test it daily now and can see right away if the chlorine level is too high or too low, and make adjustments immediately,” he remarked.
“From now on, every two weeks we do a test and send it away,” he added.
And whereas in the past staff would have to guess if water tests would come back clean, they now will know ahead of time.
“Now we can know right away if the levels are going down and we can adjust them right away,” Sharp said.
He added if the water should become compromised again, staff also will be aware of it immediately and be able to take measures to cease using it until it is clear again.
“I appreciate the parents being so supportive,” noted Sharp, who also wanted to applaud the efforts of the school board throughout this trying time.
“Everything has been done that could be done short of starting again from scratch,” he reiterated. “I am confident everything is in place now.”
Our Lady of the Way School had been under the current boil-water advisory since Oct. 19.
One also had been in effect there for much of the previous school year, paving the way for the installation of a new filtration system, and other measures, over the summer.

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