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New report shows Woolwich water issues remain minimal

Thousands of tests of Woolwich’s drinking water revealed only a handful of incidents last year. The minor non-compliance issues were resolved simply by flushing the affected areas with freshly chlorinated water.

The numbers were reported to township council this week.

Woolwich crews test eight water systems daily. Their work is backed up by regular testing by Region of Waterloo technicians. It all adds up to more than $100,000 a year, three times as much as expenditures before the fallout from the May 2000 E. coli breakout in Walkerton.

Last year, there were six occurrences in the Elmira/St. Jacobs system, where there were three in 2008. No occurrences were reported in Heidelberg (two in 2008), while there were three in Maryhill’s two systems (two in 2008). No incidents were recorded in Breslau (one) and in Conestogo (one), which has two systems. West Montrose had three issues, after none in 2008.

As with the previous report, one of the issues in the Elmira/St. Jacobs system involved elevated levels of lead. The other five involved higher levels of sodium.

In each instance, the problem was resolved by flushing of the system, reported director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley.

Where lead was found in samples, it may be traced back to the pipes or repairs with lead soldering found in an individual home: among the township’s tests are samples taken from customers’ faucets.

As with lowered chlorine levels, issues were more likely to develop in parts of the systems with dead-end pipes, where water doesn’t move around as often as in the typical looped areas, he explained.

In such cases, the incidents don’t mean the water is unsafe, simply that there is a technical issue that was quickly remedied, Kennaley noted.

Improved testing routines and work on the distribution systems themselves – such as eliminating dead-ends where water might stand – are ongoing to address compliance issues.

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