The heavy rainfall on Sept. 20 might be responsible for the spike in turbidity levels in Fernie’s water supply resulting in a boil order issued Sept. 23, said the director of operational services for the city.
In an email to The Free Press, Dave Cockwell said the city has seen spikes like this before during the fall season.
“There was a heavy rainfall on Sunday evening that might have had something to do with it, but the response on the water system wasn’t immediately following the storm like we might see in other storms.”
The water’s cloudiness is not brown, like it is when silts was in, he said.
“It’s more of a bluish colour that gives the impression it is mineral based.”
Nontheless, he said, the turbidity levels had risen and it is required by Interior Health (IH) to notify the public based on the readings – 0-1 is good; 1-5 is fair; above 5 is poor.
The Sept. 23 boil order was issued after testing showed turbidity levels of 4.7.
The city and IH recommend that all customers drink boiled water or a safe alternative until further notice, and to boil water for at least a minute before drinking, washing fruit and vegetables, making beverages or ice, or brushing teeth.
According to the city’s website, turbidity is a water quality term that refers to the clarity of the water and occurs when “fine suspended particles of clay, silt, organic and inorganic matter, plankton and other microscopic organisms are picked up by water as it passes through a watershed.”
As turbidity levels rise, so do health risks.
The recommended amount of time to boil the water is one minute.
“The City of Fernie is taking additional steps to reduce risk,” said Cockwell in a news release from the day the boil order was issued. “Interior Health has been fully involved and the public will be notified when conditions change or water quality has improved.”
For more information, contact the City of Fernie at 250-423-6817 or visit Fernie.ca.