OLW water still undrinkable

The latest water quality tests failed to clear Our Lady of the Way School in Stratton of its boil-water advisory.
On Tuesday, the Northwest Catholic District School Board had a water systems specialist at the school to train staff using the new water purification equipment in hopes of putting an end to the ongoing water quality issues there.
The school has been under a boil-water advisory since Oct. 19, but previously had been unable to drink the water for much of the last school year.
Chris Howarth, superintendent of business for the Catholic board, said they received results from the latest water quality test late Monday afternoon.
“It wasn’t good. They found another bug in the water so the boil-water order still hasn’t been lifted,” he noted yesterday.
The test taken Oct. 30 showed that pseudomonas aeruginosa was in the water.
“It’s a bacteria that attaches itself to plant matter, things like algae and other things,” Howarth said. “It is very common and is found in almost all standing pond water.
“It is not necessarily dangerous in itself but it probably would affect sick and ailing and elderly people as well.”
The test does not state the quantity of the bacteria found in the water, just that it was there.
In order for the health unit to lift its boil-water advisory, two consecutive “clean” tests must come back from the lab.
Last week there had been concern that perhaps the school’s new water purification system—complete with additional water tanks and chlorinators—had installation flaws causing the water problems.
“We found out that the chlorine injection point was on the wrong side of the water softener that was relocated just over a week ago now. We were hoping that would solve it,” Howarth said.
Before the chlorine injection point had been moved, the water softener actually was taking the chlorine out of the water and thus it was unable to kill some of the bacteria found there.
By moving the chlorine downstream, they had hoped the problem would be solved.
“We were hoping that would do it but based on today’s sample, it may not have done it,” Howarth noted. “Either that or the chorine levels were allowed to drop to a level where they weren’t effective.”
Water systems specialist Veikko Long of Thunder Bay was at the school yesterday to examine the system, and teach staff how to properly take water samples and maintain chlorine levels.
Howarth admitted it was disappointing the school’s water supply didn’t receive a clean bill of health this week.
“A little bit disheartened. It’s not going to be an easy process,” he said. “We are just going to have to make sure that our people are trained and that they are very competent with chlorine, putting it in the water and testing it, taking samples of it properly.
“That’s what we are attending to today [Tuesday].”
Still, Howarth remained confident a solution will be found to the school’s current water woes.
“It’s a setback, no question about that. We’re just hoping that today is going to solve it,” he said. “If this doesn’t solve it, we will be talking to the engineer and we’re going to have to come up with a new plan of attack.
“We are not going to leave it,” he stressed. “We are dealing with it as expediently as we can.”

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