Ross River band conducts tests for E. coli

The boil water advisory in Ross River continues as nearly 160 households are asked to clean individual water tanks.

The boil water advisory in Ross River continues as nearly 160 households are asked to clean individual water tanks.

A water delivery truck contaminated with E. coli bacteria filled up tanks in the community last week.

The community health nurse has not treated any cases of E. coli sickness, said Health and Social Services spokesperson Pat Living.

“It looks like we nipped it in the bud,” she said.

But residents must remain diligent when using water, even though the Ross River Dena Council recently helped citizens clean their water tanks.

Community Services is responsible for the water delivery in Ross River and will provide residents with a procedure for batch chlorination.

“Then we can give the water tanks a clean bill of health,” said Living.

“There are a number (of holding tanks) that are still clean and haven’t been contaminated,” said Living.

The non-contaminated tanks only need a super-chlorination while the contaminated tanks need a complete disinfection.

The Ross River Dena Council housing department is going house-to-house testing water tanks for contamination.

The council is responsible for about 110 houses in Ross River.

“Following the results, action will be taken, either disinfection procedures and/or cleaning,” said Barbra Etzel of the Ross River Dena Council.

Testing should done in about a week.

While the community clinic hasn’t treated any E. coli victims, the council has heard from people exhibiting symptoms like diarrhea and nausea.

“Though we’re not sure and that’s why we’re testing,” said Etzel.

The council is working on a long-term plan that will implement regular water testing, she added.

The boil-water advisory will be lifted once all the tanks can be confirmed clean, said Living.

Ross River Residents who received water from the truck are asked to boil it for two minutes before using it for drinking, cleaning and preparing food, washes dishes, making ice or brushing teeth.

E. Coli is bacteria found in the digestive system. Symptoms include severe abdominal cramping, vomiting, fever and bloody diarrhea.

Clean samples were taken from the water truck on Friday and Saturday, said Eric Bergsma, manager of environmental health.

The source of contamination is still unclear and may never be found.

It could have been water in truck or the nozzle but there’s no clear indication either way, said Bergsma.

“In a lot of these cases, unfortunately, there are no clear sources of contamination,” he said.

“It’s hard to find the smoking gun.”

About 15 tanks in Ross River were tested for the bacteria.

Some were contaminated, but again the source wasn’t clear.

The condition of some tanks could have lead to contamination, said Bergsma.

“If regular cleaning isn’t done, then you get a build-up of sediment and slime that could hold contamination and shielding the bacteria from chlorine,” he said.

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