The City of Prince Rupert and Northern Health put a precautionary boil water advisory in place for the Westview-area on Monday, which is expected to stay in place over the weekend.
“The section of the city under the boil water advisory is experiencing low counts of total coliform,” said Northern Health communications officer Jonathon Dyck.
All water system users from the 1400 block to the 1900 block of Second Avenue West, Graham Avenue, Atlin Avenue, Moresby Avenue, Alpine Drive, Van Arsdol Street and 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 Streets are under the advisory.
Northern Health is warning people in the area to not use water for drinking, making infant formula and juices, cooking, making ice, washing fruits and vegetables, or for brushing teeth. Due to the likeliness that young children will drink bath water, parents are encouraged to only sponge-bathe their kids until the advisory has been lifted.
In the meantime, residents and water system users are able to safely use the water for brushing teeth, drinking and cooking after heating it to a rapid boil for at least two to three minutes before consumption. Using water for bathing and washing clothing is safe without boiling.
“The water should be brought to a rapid rolling boil for one minute,” reads a notice put out by Northern Health.
Dishes can be properly sanitized by mechanical dishwashers with a hot temperature setting or use disinfectants. Dishes being hand-washed should be soaked in a solution of 30 mL of bleach mixed with 13.5 litres of lukewarm for one minute, and then air-dried.
“Boiling water (to hand-wash dishes) would be adequate, too, but may not be necessary if one of the other steps is done in its place,” said Dyck.
In a press release, the City of Prince Rupert stated it is working with Northern Health and its water system engineers to rectify the situation as soon as possible.
“We were having a hard time keeping the chorine residual up, so under the direction of Northern Health, we posted a boil water advisory as a precautionary measure,” said Garin Gardiner, operations manager of the city’s public works department.
Gardiner said piping in Section 2’s water system is 10 inches in diameter, which is large for a residential area.
“Section 2 historically has low flows … there are large diameter cast-iron pipes which were meant to supply water to industry at that end of town. That industry is no longer there, so the flows aren’t that high anymore, so we have a difficult time maintaining a chorine residual in the water,” he explained.
“When McMillan was down there, there was water ripping through that pipe all the time and it wasn’t an issue. But they’re not operating anymore, so we have low flow in that area.”
Gardiner said fresh water must be introduced into the system, with the city working with consultants to do so efficiently.
Gardiner noted that a number of tests must confirm levels are acceptable before the advisory is lifted.