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WRHA lifts boil-water advisory for south St. Vital

Posted: 10/9/2013 10:32 AM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 10/9/2013 9:09 PM | Updates

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The boil-water advisory from south St. Vital has been lifted.

In a release sent out late Wednesday, the City said it was advised by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority the water in South St. Vital is safe to drink.

In the release, the City of Winnipeg reiterated that all results for bacteria were negative from a second round of tests on water samples from the area where a boil-water advisory was imposed late Tuesday night.

"Results received today are negative for bacteria in all the water samples retested (Tuesday) in the localized area of southeast Winnipeg," the City stated in a news release.

"This confirms that the water meets all health and safety water quality regulations and guidelines."

More than 12,000 homes affected

Homeowners and people working at businesses in St. Vital had to drastically change up their routines this morning after the city issued a boil-water alert for an area of mostly affluent homes in south St. Vital, between Bishop Grandin Boulevard and the Perimeter Highway and the Red and Seine rivers.

About 12,500 households are in the affected area, city official said; that worked out to be about three per cent of ther total number of households in Winnipeg.

Kelly Kjartanson, manager of environmental standards for the water and waste department, said this morning that weekly testing conducted Monday found that two of three samples in the affected area tested positive for E-coli. A fourth area, in southwest Winnipeg, tested positive for total coliform bacteria.

Kjartanson said it was the decision of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to limit the boil-water advisory to the southeast area only.

Another round of samples from the affected areas were taken Tuesday, providing the negative results released Wednesday afternoon.

This afternoon, Dr. Michael Routledge, chief provincial public health officer, said residents of south St. Vital "should not be overly concerned." Routledge said there was no indication anyone has become ill because of tap water in St. Vital. He said symptoms of E.coli-related illnesses would include vomiting and diarrhea.

Bottled-water sales up

Meanwhile, people in the bottled-water business say sales are up on Wednesday.

Sammy Mittelstadt, president of World of Water International Ltd., was in the city visiting the Dakota location across from St. Vital Centre, one of 10 Winnipeg outlets. He said business is very good today.

"I'm not going to lie to you, it's been great for business but we don't want anyone to get sick," he said.

Added Jason Stewart, owner of the Dakota store: "Our business is probably up about 50 percent, (with a) 20 percent increase in new customers coming in. E.coli is serious. We've all got friends, family, kids."

Miriam Barrios, shopping at St. Vital Centre, is a mom of three preschoolers. The advisory, she said, could be a wakeup for other Winnipeggers to do what she does.

"It's not good, but we drink only the bottled water anyway," she said.

Businesses affected

Patty Cox, manager of the Booster Juice store in St. Vital, said her store couldn't make smoothies all morning because of the water concern.

"We had an order of 200 smoothies for a school. We couldn't make them," she said. "We had to send the order to other stores to make them."

She and her employees purchased bulk water from nearby World of Water and carried it into the mall themselves to get up and running again by lunch hour.

Over at the nearby Tim Hortons, customers found the doors locked this morning.

William Kent, who manages three stores that decided to close this morning, said he met with health inspectors.

"We had no issue with our coffee, the standards for our temperature is about 25 percent higher (than usual coffee temp) We just took this precaution to be safe," he said.

"We took all the ice out of the store and replaced it with bagged ice. The health inspector has approved us."

Not related to brown water: city

Kjartanson said civic officials were puzzled by the Monday test results, adding the testing also showed the samples had high chlorine counts – which should kill off any bacteria.

"Any micro-biologist will tell you, if the chlorine is high, the bacteria should be killed," Kjartanson said.

He said it’s most likely that the water samples were somehow contaminated: The sample containers might not have been sterilized; the sample traps could have been dirty; the person collecting the sample might somehow have contaminated it; or the sample was contaminated in the lab.

Mayor Sam Katz said it was the health authority’s decision to impose a boil-water advisory, adding that testing found that the water going into and coming out of the reservoir was safe.

Kjartanson said there is no connection between this incident and the sporadic outbreak of discoloured water across the city this spring and summer.

The city tests the water at 39 locations across Winnipeg every Monday.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 1:24 PM CDT: Adds reaction from St. Vital.

1:38 PM: Adds comments from Manitoba's chief public health officer.

2:28 PM: Switch picture.

2:39 PM: Switches video

3:35 PM: Adds negative test results.

3:39 PM: Adds updated background.

6:42 PM: Updates headline and lede with information regarding boil-water advisory being lifted.

6:45 PM: Tweaks headline.

9:09 PM: Corrects typo.

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