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Town assured water not at risk of contamination

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“We’re satisfied that our water supply is without question safe, clean, and pure,” interim Operations and Facilities manager John Callan told the town council during Monday night’s regular meeting.

“Never has there been any concern of bacteria, coliform, or E. coli in our water system,” he added.

The reassurance came as part of a report Callan had prepared at the request of Coun. Dave Bourgeault, who had been approached by some concerned residents.

For the last four years, the water has been tested from different locations throughout the town on a weekly basis.

But as a result of the tragedy in Walkerton back in May, where a number of residents died because of E. coli in the water supply, the province has stepped up guidelines and inspections at water treatment plants across the province.

Fort Frances was placed on a list of communities that didn’t meet some of the Ministry of the Environment’s standards.

“We were caught up in their criteria that we weren’t testing enough. We upgraded to testing twice a week,” assured Callan.

There also was some concern in early July when a Fort Frances resident took her own water sample and sent it off to a Thunder Bay lab. Tests found it contained samples of harmful bacteria, prompting the Northwestern Health Unit to carry out its own tests at the same address.

The health unit found no traces of bacteria and a tainted sample has been blamed for the first result.

Callan said the system has since been inspected thoroughly and areas without residuals of chlorine have been flushed and adjusted in order to ensure there are traces of chlorine in every part of the town’s water system.

One dead-end of pipe in the area of La Verendrye hospital was found to contain stagnant water, which did not contain any harmful bacteria but had a shortage of chlorine.

A valve, which had been neglected after a construction project, was turned on and the dead-end eliminated.

“We flushed the hydrants in the area and there is now residual [chlorine],” noted Callan.

“I’m really pleased with what I’ve heard. That really alleviates my fears,” Coun. Dave Bourgeault said following Callan’s report.

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