June 18, 2014 1:06 pm

AHS issues drinking water warning during southern Alberta flooding

Flooding in Claresholm 2014. Photo taken on June 18, 2014

Barry Gerbrandt

EDMONTON – Alberta Health Services is warning people in the south zone that surface waters in southern Alberta have been contaminated because of the heavy rainfall.

READ MORE: Several southern Alberta communities declare state of emergency 

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AHS says rivers, streams, ponds, irrigations systems, and storm-water collection systems in the south zone could be contaminated. AHS is also concerned about people consuming untreated residential water. It also asks residents to protect private wells and cisterns from contamination.

Depending on the source of Albertans’ drinking water supply, the flooding could impact the safety of drinking water because it may be contaminated with storm water runoff, officials say.

“We are particularly concerned about people in our zone who are connected to raw water co-ops or have their own private source of surface water such as dugouts,” says Dr. Vivien Suttorp, medical officer of health in the south zone.

“Raw water pipelines come from different reservoirs and deliver water to people’s homes.

“We really want to encourage those people to properly filter and disinfect that water before consuming it.”

FEATURE: For in-depth coverage, visit our Alberta Flood Watch webpage 

AHS says heavy rains can disturb silt and parasites below the water’s surface or increase runoff into bodies of water. Untreated water sources should be treated or vigorously boiled from one to three minutes before drinking.

“There is always some level of disease-causing bacteria present in surface water but the likelihood of contamination increases when we get a lot of rain,” Suttorp says. “Symptoms of water-borne illness can include diarrhea, nausea and upset stomach.”

Swimming or playing in surface water is very unsafe and can lead to injuries as well as a range of illnesses.

For more information on health-related flood information, click here.

There have not been any boil-water orders issued in the south zone as of Wednesday morning.

AHS does not have concerns about municipally treated water.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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