Hamilton boil water advisory

originally posted on September 22, 2016


People living in a West Mountain neighborhood are worried about their health tonight after a boil water advisory was sent to 260 homes and they wonder what was in the water they did drink before they got the notice.

A boil water advisory sent out to the Brigadoon area last night left residents with as many questions as answers .

The contaminated water was collected from a fire hydrant on Monday, but residents here say they weren’t informed that the water wasn’t safe to drink until last night.

The water testers found high levels bacteria in water from that fire hydrant meaning that something more harmful, like e-coli, could be present.

Affected residents include those living on Brigadoon Drive and a number of nearby streets.

The city says it has now isolated the water system in this area and say that while the problem is contained they are still trying to determine what caused the bacteria to grow to such high levels.

The lab tests for bacteria known as total coliforms. Some strains of e-coli can be deadly, but other bacteria showed up on the test too, clouding the results.

“The ministry’s regulation is that if we have an overgrowth situation, then we have to call it as a possibility that they might be masking the presence of total coliforms.”

In the year 2000, seven people died and thousands more got sick when the water supply in Walkerton, Ontario was contaminated with a deadly strain of e-coli.

City officials say that’s certainly not the situation here.

“We have very high chlorine levels in our system. We are regularly collecting samples and the background values that we’re seeing do not indicate that we are in a Walkerton situation.”

And while residents in Brigadoon say the advisory should have been out sooner, the city says it was following established protocols. A sample needs to be tested twice before the city puts out a boil advisory.

“The first day we had a sample back and then we needed to go back and confirm it the following day.”

The advisory could be lifted tomorrow if tests come back clean, but the investigation into what caused this in the first place will continue.

Medical officer Dr. Jessica Hopkins says the Hamilton Mountain community is the only neighbourhood under a boil water advisory and says unless you’re in the advisory zone, you’re water is safe to use.

“The bacteria that we are largely concerned with is e-coli.”

Dr.Hopkins says there is no evidence of e-coli in the water.

“In a fire hydrant if there are any areas in the hydrant where the water might become stagnant or once the water is turned on agitates the biofilm that is inside the pipe that can sometimes cause those samples to show bacteria in them.”

Public Health says no one has fallen ill from drinking the water.

“If you have been drinking the water the risk to your health is going to be very low because we haven’t identified any harmful bacteria.”

But anyone who experiences nausea, vomiting or diarrhea should contact their doctor.

When washing dishes its recommending you use soap and hot water and then rinse them in a bleach and water solution.

Residents are being asked to boil their water for at least a minute before using it or find an alternate source, like bottled water. And when showering, people should avoid swallowing water.

There is no tell-tale signs that water has e-coli or other bacteria in it and that’s why Public Health says its important people follow the advisory.

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