It was May of 2000 in the town of Walkerton, Ontario (population 4,800) when suddenly people became sickened with gastroenteritis. 65 people were so bad they were hospitalized, and 27 developed a serious and sometimes fatal kidney ailment, and, unfortunately, 7 people died. The cause was not determined until after the event. It was another E.Coli poisoning from contaminated drinking water.
A commission was formed to find the cause and to make recommendations to prevent similar events from occurring again. The Commission issued it’s report in 2002 and the results were summarized in a paper by Hrudey, Payment et al in “Water Science and Technology Vol 47 (2003) No 3 pp 7-14. If you have the time and interest I would recommend this reading on this important contaminant found far too frequently. The Commission concluded that the contamination came from cattle manure from a farm close to the shallow well that supplied the city’s drinking water.
Unfortunately there have been outbreaks since Walkerton.
In November 2008, residents of the large metropolitan city, Portland, Oregon were advised to boil their water were advised that those getting their drinking water from the Washington Park open reservoir. Apparently, the authorities had found E. Coli and other coliform bacteria would found. These are indicators that animal or human wastes were indicated in the drinking water supplies. According to the Portland Examiner coliforms “may pose special health risk for infants, young children, some of the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.”
Even more recently, in July 2010 residents of Socorro, New Mexico were advised to boil their water due to the presence of E. Coli.
Going back to the Portland situation the public were advised to “Bring all water to a rolling boil for one minute, and let it cool before using it” and further “Boiling kills bacteria and other organism in the water”
These “Boil-Alerts” affect the entire population except those that have a reliable distiller. Why? A well designed distiller will bring all of the water for drinking, ice cubes and cooking, to a prolonged rolling boil. That’s why those with a distiller need not be concerned. They are the wise consumers who have taken proactive action to ensure their water is “as pure and nature intended”. Sometimes after the fact is too late. So don’t wait.
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