ALL ABOUT WATER INFORMATION

 

So you have been given a “Boil Water” notice for your residence.                Now what…..????

 

The recent heightened awareness with regards to one of our most precious resources on O’Chiese, our water, has precipitated this narrative to hopefully provide our members with information to help separate fact from fiction.

 

Fact: We have seen a noticeable increase in “Boil Water” advisories on O’Chiese. This is due in large part to the increased water sampling that is being done within the Nation.

Fact: We are becoming more diligent in the care of our private wells.

Fact: Industry activity on O’Chiese, regarding water, is being monitored and investigated.

Fact: We have initiated more stringent processes for dealing with bacterial contamination of our wells.

Fact: We have brought in all resources available to help us to identify; issues and resolutions to ensure ALL O’Chiese members have safe drinking water.

 

Before we answer the question posted, we need to talk a bit about some of the background with regards to potable (drinking) water on O’Chiese.

 

We have basically two types of potable water systems within the reserve; Community Systems and Private Wells.

 

Community Water Systems:

Community water systems are the infrastructure that provides water to our community networks and Public Buildings. These systems by design and regulations provide “treated” water to the residences and buildings that are connected to this system. These include; Bedrock Sub-division, Bremnerville, Community Centre, Truck Stop, along with all Band Buildings and our School.

 

By “treated” we refer to the type of treatment that is required, by a Community Water System, to provide drinking water to the standards required by Health Canada. For us at O’Chiese, we are so fortunate, because of the quality of our source water, the only treatment we require to meet Health Canada’s Standards is to add chlorine at the levels indicated by their “Standard”. Again, the only reason we add the chlorine is to meet Health Canada’s requirements. But having said that, the function of the chlorine is to ensure we will not have a bacteria growing within our Community Water Systems.

 

As well as ensuring our Water Treatment Plants are functioning as they should, chlorine levels at each of our water plants are monitored/adjusted daily by our Water Technicians.  They ensure there is not too much or too little chlorine within the system. Chlorine levels (or residual) are also checked on a weekly basis by the Health Centre.  Health Canada also takes samples monthly to provide a wider scope of analysis on our water.

 

A “Boil Water” advisory to the residences whose water supply comes from one of these facilities is generally due to the chlorine residual levels indicated at a home or homes connected to that system. Either the chlorine level is below or above the required levels set out by Health Canada. This scenario is usually due to a mechanical failure of a Chlorine Pump and the process to get a new pump “on-line”.  The advisory will be lifted when chlorine levels are back to accepted levels.

  • positive draining of snow melt and rain water away from the casing. This will prevent foreign matter from migrating into your well.
  • Keep livestock/animals away from well.
  • Annual chlorination of your well; this will allow for the prevention of bacteria growth within your water supply.

The monitoring mandate from Health Canada is administered through our Health Centre, they are to test each private well annually or if requested by a resident. Water samples are taken at the residence and sent to a lab to be tested for bacteria referred to as Coliforms; Tests are performed for “Total Coliforms and a specific coliform; E. Coli.

 

A “Boil Water” advisory to the residences whose water supply comes from their private well we be initiated from two positive tests for coliforms. The advisory will be lifted when two negative samples are received.

 

Coliforms:

Coliforms are bacteria that are found naturally in plant and soil material. They are always present in the digestive tracts of animals and humans and are found in their wastes (E. Coli).

 

Indicator” Organisms (Why We Test For Coliforms):

Water contamination caused by fecal coliforms (wastes from animals) can be a serious problem due to the potential of contracting diseases from pathogens (disease causing organisms). Frequently, concentrations of pathogens from fecal contamination are small and the number of different pathogens is large. As a result it is not practical to test for all pathogens in every water sample collected. Instead, the presence of pathogens is determined with indirect evidence by testing for an “indicator” organism. As a result, testing for coliform bacteria can be a reasonable indication of whether other pathogenic bacteria are present.

 

Most coliform bacteria do not cause disease. However, we do not test for a specific coliform, but test for Total Coliforms in the water sample, as well as specifically for E. Coli and a “Boil Water” advisory will be put in place if we receive two (2) positive lab results for Total (any) Coliforms.

 

Submitted by Shane Beston