As the boil advisory in the Village of Anmore moves into its third week, residents and even local politicians are starting to ask tough question on how the predicament began and when it will end.
On Tuesday, residents and village councillors were briefed on the situation, but the answers didn't necessarily appease the concern.
"I think something should have been done a long time ago," Lynn Burton, told the Tri-Cities NOW Wednesday.
The Anmore resident was at the meeting and suggested there was a sense village officials messed up.
Burton said her tenants had gone camping using local water on the Friday before the boil advisory was put in place, and got ill.
Though she acknowledged there is no evidence the water was the cause, she said her tenant is convinced it was the water.
Burton herself has been drinking bottled water for the last several years over her own concerns about the water.
"This is not a third world country, we're apart of Metro Vancouver," she said.
The village issued the boil-water advisory Sept. 10 after elevated levels of coliform were detected in recent water sampling. Though no E. coli bacteria were found in the water system, the advisory was issued as a precaution.
The advisory comes just a couple of months before Anmore opens a new chlorine booster station. The municipality has spent $400,000 for the booster station, located at Dogwood and Hummingbird drives.
In the meantime, a temporary chlorine booster station has been installed to help clean the water lines.
Anmore resident Elaine Willis uses well water and isn't as concerned for herself, but was shocked that a booster station was planned and budgeted several years ago, but pushed back. "It's very upsetting," she said.
Willis also suggested, despite the advisory, residents weren't aware or didn't understand the severity of the issue.
Coun. John McEwen said the coliform levels in the tests shocked him, adding there was a perception the advisory wasn't that serious.
Fraser Health officials confirmed some of the early coliform counts were in the 400 to 500 parts per 100 millilitres of tested water.
The acceptable number in B.C. is no more than 10 total coliforms per sample.
"It should have been a demand, 'Don't use the water,'" McEwen said.
He was critical of his own council and the village staff, suggesting they had dropped the ball over the situation.
McEwen said the village's top priority needs to be fixing the water problems.
"I personally can't think of anything more important than drinkable water that the residents deserve," he said.
But McEwen suggested a fix might not be that easy, noting it's possible the chlorine from the booster station may not reach the far end of the village's water system.
With a small tax base, the councillor is worried the current situation could be just the start of expensive upgrades.
However, Anmore Mayor Heather Anderson said the village is making progress in getting the advisory lifted and the water back to acceptable drinking levels.
She also defended the village's response to the initial advisory, pointing out staff worked overtime the night the advisory was issued to hand out notices to residents. Anderson also noted the village posted the advisory on sign boards at the entrances of the community.
"We are taking it seriously, it's a real concern for all of us," she said. "We all drink the water."
Anderson said she hopes the permanent booster station will solve the problem for good, but conceded the village won't know until it's up and running.
Some good news could be coming to residents waiting for a glass of water out of the tap.
According to Fraser Health, a sample from Sept. 24 came back negative for coliform.
Lawrence Loh, a medical health officer with the authority, explained three negative tests
are needed before the advisory can be lifted.
Further tests were expected to take place on Thursday and today (Sept. 27).
The health authority also confirmed there has been no case of human illness linked to consumption of the water supply.
Loh also explained the health authority's role in the case of an advisory. The village is responsible for testing the water, which it then provides samples to Metro Vancouver.
The samples are then analyzed in a lab, with the results sent to the health authority.
While Fraser Health is responsible for issuing the advisory, Loh said it's the village that is ultimately responsible for making sure the water is safe.
Though several residents and councillors expressed concern over the actual coliform counts, he noted the bacteria is not a disease-causing pathogen but a sign of inadequate disinfection.
"The magnitude doesn't matter, if it's [coliform] present than as a reaction we issue a boil water advisory because the presence of coliform suggests inadequate disinfection," he said.
As for why Port Moody's water remains safe while the two communities tap into the same
system, Loh explained a certain amount of chlorine is put through the lines, killing off bacteria.
Because Anmore is further down the line, not enough residual chlorine is passing through the village's water system, leading to the high coliform counts.
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