LETHBRIDGE COUNTY – An audit has been launched by the Lethbridge North County Potable Water Co-op, as it appears a recent pressure drop that triggered a boil water order for their users may have been intentional.
The order first went into effect on July 5, when sensors along the water line noted a drop in pressure – signalling what they initially believed was a rupture to the line.
“We looked around for a water leak – there was none,” said the co-op’s Operations Manager, Martin Nordstrom. “We discovered that pressure started to recover, indicating that this wasn't in fact a rupture, it was a tampering of the water-system.”
"It can cause a situation where we have actual ground water that could impregnate [the water line], which could effect the health of your friends and neighbours." - Co-op Operations Manager Martin Nordstrom
To this point, Nordstrom says they haven’t determined who may have tampered with the system but believes it’s only a matter of time.
“Basically, it's a process of discovery,” he explained. “Right now, I'm doing an audit in that area. I have eliminated a lot of the customers, looking in their cisterns and what not, and having looked at their water flow to see if it was normal or not.”
When asked why someone may have done it, Nordstrom speculated that individual had used up all of the water they were allotted and simply wanted extra. He acknowledged that there could have been an issue with the line that may have limited a customer’s supply, but then pointed out that if that were the case all they needed to do was call for a free service call and repair.
Beyond the issue of causing a pressure drop and forcing a boil water order, he pointed out that whoever may have been responsible also needs to consider just how significant the consequences could have been.
“It can cause a situation where we have actual ground water that could impregnate [the water line], which could effect the health of your friends and neighbours. It's not just getting more water, there's a lot more repercussions as a result of it."
“That's why service calls are free. We want to come out and make sure that we're taking the best care of our customers that we can,” continued Nordstrom. “It's based on a trust system – that they trust us to do that, we also trust them to operate their systems within the rules.”
As for the what will happen when they track down the person responsible, Nordstrom noted that a new policy instituted by the board of directors should deter similar actions in the future.
“In regard to tampering… the fine will start at $1,000, and they would lose the right to have water in that particular cistern for six months – that's a first offence. The second offence, they lose their right to have water permanently.”
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