Alberton, Crossroads, and Sturgeon Creek schools all remain under boil-water advisories this week but officials are wondering whether the sampling process was flawed—not the water.
The boil-water advisory that had been in effect at Nestor Falls School since Feb. 8 was lifted Monday.
“Nestor Falls was pulled off after two clear tests in a row,” said Murray Quinn, superintendent of plant operation for the Rainy River District School Board.
The school board expects the other three schools to receive clear samples by next week. Nestor Falls School had been under a boil-water advisory a week before the others—and it usually takes a week to get all the tests back
“Part of the problem might be the way the tests are being done,” Quinn noted. “Our staff is getting trained in the area of water sampling. That’s why we’re working so closely with the health unit.”
Quinn said it is very easy to contaminate water samples during testing so the health unit is completing further tests, and should have results next week.
Bill Limerick, environmental team leader for the Northwestern Health Unit, said the sampling showed some background contamination.
“It’s a heterotrophic bacteria,” he explained. “It’s an indicator organism saying there’s something not right.”
Crossroads principal Brian Love said they’re not taking any chances, but he also thinks the tests are giving false results due to contamination of the sampling containers.
“We still have the boil-water advisory in effect and will be providing students with [bottled] water until we get the all clear,” he noted. “Student safety is always our first concern and we’re taking every step to ensure our students’ safety.
“But this time of year, the groundwater is frozen. Nothing’s going into the well,” he added.
A boil-water advisory was issued for Crossroads last May after traces of bacteria were found.
The public school board is in the process of implementing new water purification systems in all its rural schools.