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Atikokan water deemed ‘safe’ to drink again


Atikokan residents once again can drink tap water without having to boil it first after three consecutive samples came back negative for the Cryptosporidium bacteria.

The Northwestern Health Unit lifted its “boil water” advisory last Friday. It was issued Oct. 14 after a sample taken by the Ontario Clean Water Agency contained traces of Cryptosporidium.

“We’re quite elated about it,” Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown said yesterday afternoon. “It caused a lot of inconvenience, and I’m glad it’s over.”

“It’s too bad it took so long,” noted Brian Norris, a public health inspector with the Northwestern Health Unit’s office in Fort Frances. “But I guess it’s better to err on the side of safety than have it the other way round.”

On the other hand, Mike McKinnon, editor of the Atikokan Progress, wondered if maybe it all was more of a scare than a real threat.

“When you consider the first water sample the ‘crypto’ showed up in was taken on Sept. 9, a lot of water must have been drunk before the advisory [Oct. 14],” he noted.

“Everybody made a conscious decision before they went to drink tap water . . . but in the end, nobody became ill,” he added. “But the spring water sales were good.”

Meanwhile, Atikokan fixed its other water problem--quantity--in the last week of November.

The Plateau Lake dam project, a $102,000 endeavour to supply the town with water after the Atikokan River ran low this summer, was completed ahead of schedule by contractors.

Construction on the dam started in September.

“I was at the dam [Monday] and the water was coming over in a good flow,” enthused Mayor Brown. “Hopefully it will last quite a while. I’m glad to see our water troubles look like they’re over.”

In early August, the town had to ban unnecessary use of the domestic water supply after the town’s intake above Little Falls dropped 41 inches in 24 hours.

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