For more than three weeks, the city of Prince Rupert has been under a boil water notice, and businesses have felt the sting.
Two microparasites, giardia and cryptosporidium were discovered in the city’s water triggering a boil water notice on Dec. 14. There are more than 1,000 businesses across the city, and with no end in sight — the city requires multiple clear test results before the notice can be lifted — some are installing their own filtration systems.
“It’s definitely has an impact on sales overall,” said Scott Farwell, general manager of The Crest Hotel.
The lounge and restaurant can’t serve drinks with ice, and the coffee makers are hooked up to city water. They’ve resorted to making coffee out of homestyle coffee machines, and they’re unable to offer specialty coffee.
“We’re going to install filtration systems at all our facilities in the restaurant and lounge area. It will allow us to filter our water and treat it so we’re not affected by upcoming events that may occur,” Farwell said.
“We have a backup generator in case the power goes out, but never had to tackle the water. It wasn’t as common, but maybe it will be in the future, you never know.”
Commercial water filtration systems can cost between $400 – $1,600. To offer filtered water for coffee and ice machines, the cost ranges from $400-600, and to cover an entire restaurant, including all the taps, it would cost approximately $1,600.
One dentist in the city had to shut down her clinic for a day after the boil water notice was issued.
“We’ve been affected quite a bit. Our line was a city water line so the first day we were notified I had to totally shut down my clinic and I had to arrange for a water supply that can attach to my chairs. Right now I have two chairs [out of four] running,” said Dr. Gursimran Brar.
Since she didn’t have all her chairs running, one of her dental hygienists was without work for a week.
“It’s quite a pain,” Dr. Brar said, adding that she expected the notice to be lifted by Christmas. “I had to buy more equipment to operate another chair.”
Many of the other dental clinics have their own filtration systems and weren’t affected in the same way.
Northern Health spokesperson, Eryn Collins, said the environmental health officer hasn’t done any specific inspections following the boil water notice, all the permitted facilities are on the same inspection schedule.
“We’re not aware of any businesses that had to cease business due to the boil water notice. If they have, they’ve done it proactively,” Collins said.
The environmental health officer in town has spoken with a “fair number of businesses” that have contacted him with questions about the risk, but according to Northern Health, no one has reached out to say they can’t do business because of the boil water notice.
The new coffee shop, Dumela Coffee and Ice Cream, at the Rupert Square Mall proactively closed for three days until their facility was cleared by Northern Health’s environmental health officer.
“We did the test, we had to run the water, and they measured how hot it came out and how long it stayed hot, about 160 degrees, so then we had to call him back and said it stays hot for more than five minutes and he said in that case we can sell. It took about four days,” said Maggie Viviers, Rupert Square Mall manager.
“We can sell everything, even specialty coffee because our water comes in 176 degrees.”
Everything but frozen yogurt, one of the shop’s most popular items.
“If I take the average day that we served frozen yogurt it turns out to about $250 a day that we’re losing on one item,” Viviers said.
Her husband, John, opened the business on Dec. 3, 2018, and they’re not quite finished adding to the shop, but they want to wait for the boil water notice to be lifted before they add any more food items.
“We just started out, and you don’t want to take any chances,” John said.
At Seal Cove Neighbourhood Pub, the boil water notice has become a bit of a headache for the restaurant. They’ve been boiling water daily for cleaning vegetables, cooking and washing dishes.
“We serve a lot of salads and when you’re serving raw products you have to boil the water first then let it cool. It’s a daily added extra to us,” said Dan Gunn, general manager.
The city is expected to receive another test result on Jan. 8, but multiple clear test results must be received before the notice will be lifted, and the holidays delayed timely results.
Daily challenges will continue to burden city businesses until the notice is lifted, unless of course, they can invest in a commercial filtration system.
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Shannon Lough | Editor
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