A rural Manitoba town is boiling its drinking water today, after fears that rising flood water may have spilled into the local reservoir.
On Tuesday, the town of Souris declared a state of emergency and issued a boil water advisory, after the Souris River surged three feet in a single day and sent water seeping into the town’s water pumphouse.
It is not known for sure if any of the untreated groundwater wound up in the town’s treated water reservoir, but town officials aren’t taking chances. "We have to play it safe," said Souris chief administrative officer Charlotte Parham.
Souris residents are advised to boil all water used for drinking, cooking and brushing their teeth. As well, residents are reminded not to swallow water in the shower or bath. The advisory will remain in place until further notice.
It’s the first time that the town of 1,800 people, located about 250 kilometres west of Winnipeg, has issued a boil water advisory in the 25 years that Parham has been with the town, she said.
"The water just got way too high," she added. "We declared a state of emergency because we weren’t sure how high it was going to go – it’s gone down now, and we’re just hoping it stays that way."
Flooding has been unusually bad this year, Parham said, as the Souris River backs up against Highway 250. That highway has been closed since Tuesday night. Officials are currently looking for ways to pump the stalled water over a rail bridge, which could help drop river levels.
"It’s a nice lake out there," Parham chuckled. "We haven’t decided what we’re going to name it yet."
Two houses near Souris have been sandbagged and officials are watching for others that might be at risk.