Letters to the Editor

Only ‘at risk’ need to boil water under Water Quality Advisory

To the editor:

I was concerned to read the Capital News story on the Water Quality Advisory (WQA) for the McKinley Landing area published on Friday, May 4.

While the phrase water quality advisory was retained in the article, the message that was delivered to McKinley residents by the Kelowna Capital News was that all residents should boil their water. In the course of your editing of the press release issued by GEID, instructions regarding precautions for at-risk populations were retained, but the critical part of a WQA—identification of the at-risk population (elderly, children, immunocompromised)—was left out.

This missing information means that some people may have boiled their water without any need to do so, and also could have left customers uncertain about the actual level of advisory.

Although GEID and other water suppliers have long-standing concerns about message confusion between Water Quality Advisory and Boil Water Notices, the Capital News should be familiar with both types of notification after six years, and able to distinguish between the two.

Under a WQA, only the at-risk population is advised to boil their water and other water users are unaffected, while Interior Health recommends that everyone boil their water under a boil water notice.

It would be prudent to publish a correction outlining the distinction, along with an apology to the affected residents.

In addition, I suggest that you review the various stages of water quality notifications with your staff to prevent this sort of situation again in the future. A brief summary of the different levels is available on the Interior Health website:

http://www.interiorhealth.ca/YourEnvironment/DrinkingWater/Pages/AdvisoriesNotifications.aspx

Due to the length, I understand that space may not permit replication of the entire Water Quality Advisory notice in newspaper articles. However, please feel free to contact GEID via telephone in the future if you have any questions regarding a notification, or if you would like GEID to review any article about water quality notifications that you publish.

GEID and other water suppliers depend on the local media outlets to assist us in notifying our customers of changes to water quality, and working with you to deliver clear, consistent and accurate messages is a priority for all of our staff.

Darren Schlamp,

Glenmore-Ellison Improvement District,

Kelowna

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