The city of Prince Rupert has issued a boil water advisory for all of its 12,000 residents following a year of extreme weather, and the warning could last well into next weekend.
In a release issued Friday, the city said unacceptable levels of the parasites cryptosporidium and giardia have been detected in water samples.
Residents are being directed to boil water continuously for at least one minute prior to drinking. The city says home water filtration systems are not considered effective for eliminating the parasites. Water used for cooking, brushing teeth and washing food or dishes should also be boiled.
Cryptosporidium and giardia have been linked to intestinal infections, including so-called “beaver fever,” which can lead to symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. Seniors, children and people with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of infection.
The contamination is being blamed on this year’s extremely dry summer that lowered nearby Shawatlans Lake. A storm surge this fall then pushed debris into the water, which the city says made it undrinkable.
WATCH: Coverage of B.C. water contamination on Globalnews.ca
The lake is supplying Prince Rupert’s drinking water while the city does work on its 100-year-old dam, which is the area’s main water source.
The dam replacement is part of an ongoing effort by the city to overhaul its water infrastructure. In August, the city applied for funding to implement a two-phased water treatment system and replace a submarine line carrying potable water from Shawatlans and Woodworth lakes. The project would also see the replacement of the dam.
The city said it anticipates the notice to stay in effect for over a week. Anyone who experiences any symptoms is asked to contact their doctor and seek medical attention immediately.
—With files from the Canadian Press