The boil water notice that was issued July 29 to users of the Lac la Hache Water System due to bacterial contamination was lifted on Aug. 5.
Cariboo Regional District (CRD) chair Al Richmond told the 100 Mile House Free Press on Aug. 2 that contamination had been detected in the water after a routine test sample showed low levels of fecal coliform.
The CRD needed two clear passes of tests that show no coliform before it could reduce or get rid of the boil water advisory, he explained.
Richmond added the boil water notice was due to “extremely low contamination level” in the system, but it was not e-coli.
Staff began chlorinating the system on July 28 to fight the bacteria immediately and began investigating the water system, he added.
He noted the CRD hoped to have the results by Aug. 5, and the boil water notice was lifted around 3:30 p.m. that day.
On Aug. 8, Richmond said CRD staff have found no leaks or damage anywhere in the system, but remain actively investigating to determine the cause.
“The [results] came back from Interior Health’s labs on Friday [Aug. 5] and there were two clear ones and we were good to go, so we have lifted the boil water order … and we’re back to normal operations.”
While contamination can happen from a variety of sources, or even a false result due to a sampling error or test bottle contamination, there was no indication of that in this case, he explained.
“We use IH labs now for smaller systems, and they didn’t lead us to believe that they believed the three tests that we got were false. So we proceeded with the fact that we’d chlorinated, treated, and then did two subsequent tests and they were clear.”
Meanwhile, CRD staff will continue to test water, make adjustments, and do its investigation. “There are no leaks and no breaks, so they will continue to monitor [water quality].”
Based on the previous and new data gathered, CRD staff members will continue to work on trying to determine the cause, and then make some recommendations around that, he adds.
“Water quality changes, too. It’s up and down in valves and aquifers, and they’ve got to investigate that and monitor.”
The CRD chair adds he is asking regularly for conclusions, and staff tells him it will be “quite a while” – but his own estimate is about two weeks.
Richmond thanks the residents on the system for being “for the most part, very co-operative and understanding.”
“These things happens from time to time, but I think the last time it was in Lac la Hache was 12 to 15 years ago.”