Residents of the Hedley area who get tap water from the Hedley Improvement District Water System have been told not to consume the water because it could make them sick.
Interior Health’s drinking water website said the do not consume advisory went into effect on Friday morning.
The advisory comes after samples collected on Tuesday from the Hedley pump house and an address on Scott Avenue revealed unacceptable levels of total coliform.
The Hedley Improvement District’s chief water operator Travis Barck said that he was contacted by Interior Health about the need to for an advisory on Friday.
Residents were notified Friday evening by telephone and through the distribution of noticed door-to-door on Saturday.
Barck said the district is “super chlorinating” their well and reservoir twice this weekend to kill any residual bacteria.
The hope is that samples taken on Monday will be clean when the results come back later in the week.
That would allow Hedley residents to resume drinking their tap water by Thursday or Friday.
“We are doing everything possible to make sure that their water is clean and drinkable,” Barck said.
He said the health authority had only asked the water provider to super chlorinate once. However, Barck said the water system was going above and beyond by going through that process twice.
Barck said it is possible that work being done to repair damage done by last spring’s freshet may have allowed contamination to enter the system.
He said a flood event last spring scoured a local creek, exposing the mainline that had previously been buried.
The damage meant the line had to be reburied and reattached at the other side of the creek.
“Soil, dirt of some sort got into the main, so when they made that final connection and everything was connected up to the system, that was then deposited in the system creating bacteria being present,” Barck said, explaining how the work may have contaminated the water system.
The repair work was being done by an outside contractor.
However, the improvement district’s chair emphasized that no final determination on the cause had been made.
Interior Health said on its drinking water website that a do not consume advisory means that boiling the water will not make it safe and that if residents swallow the water, they could become sick.
The health authority said the notice means no one should drink the water or use it to brush their teeth, prepare or cook food or give it to their pets.
However, Interior Health said a do not consume advisory means it is still fine to shower in the water, use it to clean your home or car and to water plants.
The Hedley Improvement District Water System serves less than 500 people.
– with files from Jules Knox