Health authority concerned about safety of Cherryville water

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CHERRYVILLE - Some Cherryville residents may have cow manure in their drinking water.

Interior Health hasn’t confirmed the contamination, but a spokesperson says drinking water officers are concerned after visiting the area Wednesday.

“In their opinion you could see that as snow is melting and runoff occurs there was the potential for manure to be flushed into the creeks,” Mike Adams, with Interior Health says. “There are shallow wells that are in close proximity to some of these creeks.... Drinking water could be impacted.”

Adams says ranching activity near the creeks is not “best practice” and corrective action could be undertaken in partnership with other agencies, like the Ministries of Environment and Agriculture.

“We’re looking to work collaboratively with the parties involved (the property owners and the ranchers) as well as other agencies to find both an immediate resolution to what’s going on out there but also looking ahead for something long term,” Adams says.

The situation is complicated by the fact that some residents aren’t treating their well water.

“If you’re drawing water off a surface source, folks should be taking appropriate measures to make sure the water is safe to drink,” Adams says.

While there’s no drinking water advisory in effect, Adams reiterates his advice for any water pulled from a shallow source: treat it before consumption. All surface water has the possibility of being tainted with bacteria like E. coli, he says.

Regional district director for Cherryville Eugene Foisy says the contamination has been an issue in years pasand insists action must be taken to prevent manure from seeping into the water supply. Water at the local elementary school might also have been impacted and students are being told to drink bottled water for now. 

Adams says Interior Health is actively investigating the concern and considering next steps in conjunction with provincial authorities.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call 250-309-5230.

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