UPDATE Walkerton, Ont. Water System Still Contaminated

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Friday, September 8, 2000

Walkerton water system still contaminated

By JOHN MINER -- London Free Press

WALKERTON, Ont. -- This weary community's water problems continued to mount yesterday with new tests indicating the distribution system remains contaminated.

"It is very disturbing news. People are quite distressed," said Bruce Davidson, spokesperson for the 500-member Concerned Walkerton Citizens group.

Officials had no answers about the contamination for a mostly sombre crowd of 200 residents at a meeting last night.

"We are a little puzzled by it," said Peter Harrison of the Ontario Clean Water Agency, which took over running Walkerton's water system after an outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 in June killed six and sickened about 2,000.

Harrison said the high levels of chlorine in the system were expected to eliminate any E. coli.

The lack of answers angered some residents at the meeting.

"I was under the impression we had called in the experts," said one man.

Samples taken from the water distribution system Sept. 2, 3 and 4 contained bacterial coliforms. Two of the samples contained E. coli.

A statement to residents by the municipality of Brockton said the Ontario Clean Water Agency is checking the tests and determining if the strain of E.coli is deadly.

The municipality emphasized there are possible reasons for the contaminated samples, including a disturbance in the water pipes caused by construction, sampling errors or from one of the wells.

Dr. Walter Ewing of the Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Health Unit said he hoped to have the results today. Ewing said officials are concerned about reports people are starting to drink the water again. He urged people to continue to boil their water or use bottled water.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), September 08, 2000

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