Since the August 19th boil water advisory, Mayor Steven Byvelds has been working to discover what caused the initial reading.
He explained, at the September 6th South Dundas council meeting, that there were two issues to be dealt with in this situation.
First, council needed expert reports on what actually happened.
Secondly, council would need to review the reports to determine what, if anything, needed to be done to update emergency procedures should a similar situation occur in the future.
At that time, Byvelds had received two reports on the situation. One, unfortunately, hadn’t arrived until late on September 6th so there hadn’t been time to review and report to council.
At the September 20th meeting, Byvelds stated: “I apologize. I do not have that report today.”
He said that he’d “finally had time to put all involved in a meeting yesterday (September 19th). We had a really good discussion and we’re working on a report that should be ready within the week.”
Byvelds stated that upon completion of this report, work would begin on development of a protocol for future emergency situations.
On September 29th the Leader received two press releases concerning the boil water advisory: one from Mayor Byvelds and one from the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU).
Byvelds: “As promised on August 19th, 2011, I have had discussions with the Medical Officer of Health, representatives of the Ministry of Environment Safe Drinking Water Branch, Caneau Water and Sewage Operations Inc., and Township staff regarding the events leading up to the issuance of the boil water advisory.”
EOHU: “On August 17, 2011, the (EOHU) issued a Precautionary Boil Water Advisory for those served by the South Dundas Regional Drinking Water System treatment plant.”
“The decision to issue the advisory came after receiving an initial report of “overgrown” results from the laboratory. “Overgrown” is a situation where the test may have been contaminated with bacteria found in the environment.”
“Although all other routine water testing results that day were normal, this condition may have interfered with the detection of coliforms or E. coli that may have been present in the sample. In this instance, further testing was required in order to rule out the presence of harmful bacteria.”
EOHU continued: “One day following the advisory, subsequent results fell within acceptable parameters.”
“When there is an “overgrown” situation, as a precaution, the public will be asked to boil water. This is in fact a usual course of action taken by public health officials, even if there is no obvious cause for the adverse results.”
EOHU concluded, explaining that “it is important to note that the (EOHU) and the Ministry of Environment oversee and inspect hundreds of water systems, including municipal water treatment plants. At times, it is not unusual to see inexplicable adverse results. This type of situation does occur and does not mean that a system is unsafe.”
Mayor Byvelds stated: “I am satisfied that all proper protocols were followed and that the quality assurance and quality control procedures in place are acceptable.”
He continued, saying, “The plant’s quality control parameters that measure chlorine residual and turbidity continuously displayed that the water quality leaving the plant was as good as it has been since the day that the South Dundas water plant was first put into operation.”
He emphasized the main point of EOHU’s findings: “It can only be concluded that external factors, such as contamination or inadequate sterilization of the sample bottle caused the overgrown result.”
“While the precautionary boil water advisory caused angst and inconvenience it is comforting to know that there never was an issue with the quality of the water produced by the South Dundas Regional Drinking Water System.”
Now that the first issue in the boil water advisory situation has been addressed, Mayor Byvelds has, as promised, taken up the second issue: “Staff has now been tasked with drafting a protocol detailing how we would deal with a similar situation in the future. Once complete we will share this with you.”