EOHU chief says water is safe

by Gregg Chamberlain - EAP
EOHU chief says water is safe
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, chief medical officer for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, says the water in Casselman is safe to drink, even if it does not look good. He said that the concentration of manganese in the water, giving it a yellowish colour, is dropping thanks to heavy rains that have raised the level of the South Nation River, the source of Casselman’s drinking water. (Photo : file photo)

The chief medical officer for the regional health unit says Casselman’s water is safe to drink even if it looks strange because of the higher-than-normal manganese content.

«The levels are below the Health Canada level of standards, and have been as such for the last 10 days,» said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, chief medical officer for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU).

Dr. Roumeliotis spoke during a phone interview early Tuesday evening while in Toronto for meetings with provincial officials over various health matters. He affirmed that the water coming out of the taps in Casselman is safe to drink even though it may still have a yellow tinge from an above-average concentration of manganese. The concentration of manganese in the water had reached a level of one milligram per litre last month, which exceeds the federal guideline maximum of 0.12 milligram per litre for drinking water.

The spring and summer heatwaves earlier this year caused the water level in the river to drop below normal and that helped to concentrate the amount of manganese that is usual in the river water.

But now, Dr. Roumeliotis confirmed, the manganese level is dropping thanks to recent heavy rains that have raised the water level in the South Nation River, the source of Casselman’s drinking water. That means less concentration of manganese in the river water. Dr. Roumeliotis expects the concentration to drop even more as the water level in the river returns to normal with more rain between now and the start of autumn and cooler temperatures.

«We are monitoring the situation very closely,» he said, adding that if there is any indication that manganese concentrations are increasing again the EOHU will warn the public.

Dr. Roumeliotis has rescinded an EOHU advisory parents with babies who are bottle-fed to use bottled water to prepare infant formula. He said the advisory is no longer necessary though parents can continue to do so if they wish.

He also noted that manganese is a natural mineral that the human body needs in tiny amounts «for our own nervous system to develop» and that there is slight chance of anyone in Casselman getting enough manganese from the drinking water to create a personal health risk.

«It would take weeks, or even months,» he said, adding that the human body eliminates almost all excess amounts of minerals, vitamins and other substances on a regular basis.

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