Boil water advisories given all clear

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Residents of two CRD water districts were under a boil water advisory for about two weeks after the power was lost due to the Dec. 20 windstorm.

People living in the Highland-Fernwood and Beddis Water systems were affected by the advisory, caused by damage to the water system and power outages after the storm. Both areas went under the advisory on Dec. 23 after the systems were depressurized.

“What happens in these services if they don’t have backup power, the water plants stop producing water. We do have a couple of days of storage in the water tanks in these services,” said CRD senior manager of infrastructure operations Matthew McCrank. “If the power disruption lasts for too long, of course the plant isn’t producing any water and the water in those tanks is used up by just general usage.”

The Highland-Fernwood infrastructure was also damaged by falling trees, which caused a break in the main line and drained the reservoir tank faster.

After power was restored to the Highland-Fernwood system, a pressure control valve malfunctioned, impacting the system further and causing damage to some private plumbing systems.

The Beddis system was able to re-pressurize without any incidents and the boil water advisory for that system was given the all clear by Island Health on Jan. 2.

Highland-Fernwood residents were able to drink their tap water again on Jan. 6 after repairs and testing were complete.

McCrank said that one of the major hurdles to this operation was the loss of power at the same time. Typically, boil water advisory notices are sent out through electronic methods like email and phone messages. However, since the power was also out, people in the areas affected were unable to receive messages from the CRD. The CRD enlisted Salt Spring Island Search and Rescue members to help distribute the boil water advisory notices, as well as provide bottled water to those in need.

Under a boil water advisory, the water is considered safe to drink after being boiled for one minute. Any non-drinking water uses are still permitted, as long as the water is not consumed.

For more on this story, see the Jan. 9, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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