U.S. Water News Online
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- British Columbians who think
they're suffering from the stomach flu or food poisoning may instead
have had drinking water contaminated with parasites, the provincial
health officer says.
Dr. Perry Kendall told a news conference recently that for many
years, British Columbia has had the highest rate of gastrointestinal
or stomach illness in Canada.
While there's no way to tell exactly what causes most of the
stomach ailments, the water is the likely culprit, Kendall said in
releasing his annual health report.
He also said people with diseases such as AIDS or cancer are
especially at risk of contracting a waterborne illness and should
boil their drinking water.
Three-quarters of the province's water comes from lakes, creeks,
rivers or rainfall, sources that are susceptible to contamination
because they aren't treated, Kendall said.
That means parasites such as giardia and cryptosporidium, which
are resistant to traditional disinfectants such as chlorine, aren't
At the latest count, British Columbia had 304 water systems on
boil-water advisories, up from 220 last year, Kendall said.
Dr. Shaun Peck, deputy provincial health officer, said that
compared to many other jurisdictions, British Columbia has a long
history of under-treating its drinking water.
``Increasingly, we're suspicious that it may be the water,'' he
said about the high rate of stomach illnesses in the province.
Kendall's report makes 32 recommendations to help improve drinking
water quality over a five- to 10-year period, starting with the need
Kendall and Peck also called for a centralized information system
for monitoring and public reporting on drinking water quality.
While some parts of British Columbia are using filtration and
other advanced forms of water treatment, that's an expensive option,
However, there are ways to raise the money to improve water
systems, he said.
For example, the community of Revelstoke has installed a
state-of-the-art micro-filtration plant by acquiring a municipal
grant for half the capital cost while residents pay for the other
half through user fees.
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.