China Creek Marina and Campground, seen at dawn in this file photo, is under a boil water advisory after high levels of E. coli were detected in the drinking water. The water has been treated and further testing will be done before the advisory is lifted. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Port Alberni’s China Creek Campground issues boil water advisory

Campground on Alberni Inlet showing high levels of E. coli in drinking water system

China Creek Campground is under a boil water advisory after a test of the drinking water source showed excessive levels of E. coli bacteria.

“It is typical of China Creek that we would get some E. coli this time of year,” said Cecilia Addy, manager of marina services with the Port Alberni Port Authority. The port authority owns and operates China Creek Marina and Campground, located several kilometres down the Alberni Inlet from the city.

China Creek Campground’s drinking water is ground water that comes from a deep well system, and is in turn stored in a reservoir.

”When we have results such as E. coli we have procedures set in place,” Addy explained.

Addy said the conditions that prompted the boil water advisory are natural for this time of year, and that the campground has emergency procedures that were enacted as soon as the high bacterial count came back from Island Health.

”This is typical for us this time of year,” she said. A hot, dry spell followed by rain usually brings on higher levels of bacteria, particularly because it’s groundwater, she added. Results of the water tests were not immediately available.

Addy said chlorine has been added to the drinking water system. It will sit for 24 hours before being flushed; testing will continue, and the advisory will only be lifted once two clear tests have been recorded and Island Health approves.

”We have to treat it when it has any contaminants in it,” she explained.

This is the first boil water advisory for the Alberni Valley this summer, although there different beaches have been closed due to high bacterial counts—Canal Beach at Canal Waterfront Park, and Papermill Dam Park on both sides of the Somass River.

City of Port Alberni CAO Tim Pley said water tests will be conducted on the city-owned side of Papermill Dam as well as the Somass River sandbar, located downriver from the Somass River Bridge (also known as the Orange Bridge), as well as River Road Park near the Riverbend store.

These tests can’t take place until Monday (Aug. 12) due to the short shelf life of water samples and the testing schedule at the lab that Island Health typically uses. The lab only receives samples Monday through Wednesday, he said, and the issue at Papermill Dam only came to light on Wednesday (Aug. 7).

The city closed the beach at Papermill Dam in response to the First Nations Health Authority closing the beach on the Tseshaht First Nation side of the Somass River (on Hector Road) after water tests the FNHA conducted showed high levels of E. coli in the water at the swimming area.

In response to public questions about whether the city’s sewage lagoon is causing high bacterial readings on the Somass, Pley said they regularly test the lagoon’s outflow. A test conducted July 3 showed the outflow was within acceptable levels, he said.

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