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Advisory binding for food places
One establishment reprimanded since boil water notice issued

Shane Magee
Northern News Services
Friday, June 5, 2015

At least one food establishment has been told to correct how it is providing drinking water to customers during the city's ongoing boil water advisory.

NWT chief public health officer Andre Corriveau said a complaint was received which promoted a food inspector to go to the location to correct the issue.

"We were told the place that was offering the option (for water not boiled) to clients and we told them it wasn't acceptable," Corriveau said. He declined to name the location. He encouraged patrons to report any issues of concern to the health department.

The precautionary advisory began May 11 because of increased dirt or sand in the city's water supply at the Yellowknife River. While residents in the city, Ndilo and

Dettah were advised to boil water for at least one minute prior to use for preparing food, drinking or brushing teeth, food establishments have been ordered to boil water used for cooking, preparing food, making ice and serving as drinking water.

"It is an advisory for residents - you and I in our own private homes - but the advisory is binding for food establishments," Corriveau said.

Some locations have stopped offering tap water at the table. At the Wildcat Cafe, customers can purchase bottled water with meals. Sato Chankasingh said customers have been purchasing the bottles. In the kitchen water is boiled prior to use for preparing food.

Food establishments that serve fountain drinks must meet several criteria to be able to use water without boiling it, such as distillation, reverse osmosis, or filtering using a filter size of one micron or less. Corriveau said those systems provide the equivalent safety measure that boiling the water would.

Asked for his thoughts on people who have stopped boiling water before consuming it, Corriveau repeated that it is only a precautionary advisory and that the city has a fairly good source of water.

"On average it is OK but it still puts you at risk," he said about drinking the water without boiling it.

The most at risk are those who are frail, young babies or those whose immune systems are weak.

The territory's top medical officer admits he sometimes doesn't use boiled water.

"Yes I do boil water, but once and a while you brush your teeth and forget. At my house we have boiled water always available," he said.

There have been no positive test results for bacteria and no illnesses related to water consumption reported, Corriveau said. Those tests are conducted daily but the results only come in a day later.

There's no ongoing testing for other harmful parasites like Giardia, also called beaver fever.

As the boil advisory drags on, Corriveau said he's not sure when it will end.

"You might have to wait until the spring melt happens on the tundra and you get a large influx of clean water in the river. Until that happens - or it might be when the new treatment plant opens," he said.

Corriveau said a measure of turbidity, the Nephelometric Turbidity Unit (NTU), must consistently be below five units for the advisory to end. The advisory began when the NTU hit 10 and during the past few weeks has spiked to 20 NTU. Chris Greencorn, the city's director of public works and engineering, said Monday the NTU level was recorded at 8.49.

"It seems to have improved a bit over the weekend but it's not consistent enough to lift it, so it's still on," Corriveau said Monday.

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