Where is the poop in Vernon's water coming from? Genetic testing aims to find out
City hopes to determine sources, devise plan to control contamination
The City of Vernon, B.C. is turning to genetic testing to determine the source of the E. coli that's been contaminating local water.
Standard water testing can find the presence and amount of E. coli in the water, but can't determine where it's coming from.
E. coli is a bacterium associated with fecal contamination.
Now, the city and Genome B.C. are collecting water samples from streams and Okanagan Lake and sending them to the University of Victoria for testing.
"It will help inform how we spend money to limit that type of material from entering the creeks and lakes, whether that be source control in local parks or some sort of additional treatment before any runoff hits the creeks," Vernon infrastructure manager Mark Dowhaniuk told Radio West guest host Josh Pagé.
"We're within our limits at local beaches, but we're looking at improving quality of water [running into] the lake and also in our streams. That obviously will have a positive impact on our community. With limited funds we're just trying to find the best place to spend that money."
Dowhaniuk says fecal contamination is a potential danger for some communities that draw drinking water from Okanagan Lake. Vernon is not one of those communities, however. He also says the province has raised the issue of stream and lake water quality with the city.
Genome B.C. will split with the city the estimated $99,000 cost of collecting and testing the samples.
Dowhaniuk says the work is planned to last three years but there will be preliminary results available before the end of 2017.
With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West
To hear the full story: click the audio labelled: Where is the poop in Vernon's water coming from? Genetic testing aims to find out