There is no end in sight for a city-wide boil water advisory issued for Prince Rupert two weeks ago.
In an update on Friday, the city said its approximately 12,000 residents will have to continue boiling their water or using bottled water “until further notice” due to high levels of parasites in the drinking water supply.
Initially, the city had estimated that the advisory would be in place for “over a week.”
“Unfortunately, there are no treatment options available to the City to remove cryptosporidium at the source supply, and therefore there is currently no way to prevent or manage the issue other than to wait for the water to clear itself,” said the city in the update.
“Water testing results will continue to be closely monitored until Northern Health determines the water meets acceptable standards.”
The original advisory was issued on Dec. 14, after unacceptable levels of cryptosporidium and giardia were detected in water samples.
Those parasites can cause intestinal infections including “beaver fever,” with symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Children, seniors and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk of infection.
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According to the city, the surge in levels of the parasites was a result of an exceptionally dry summer which caused water levels in Shawatlans Lake to drop.
A storm surge in the fall then pushed debris into the lake, contaminating it.
Prince Rupert is in the midst of overhauling its water infrastructure, and in August applied for a $30-million grant to build a multiple phased water treatment facility that it says could lower the risk of such contamination in the future.
According to the advisory, residents are advised to boil water for a minimum of one minute if they plan on drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, washing dishes or washing food with it. Unboiled water is also considered unsafe for pets.
-With files from Sean Boynton