Update: Walkerton 198 Days With No Water

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CBC

Tue Dec 5, 10:19 am

Walkerton expects water to be declared safe

People who live in Walkerton, Ont., expect to be getting some good news Tuesday from the medical officer of health that their town's water is safe to drink.

When Dr. Murray McQuigge holds a town meeting at noon and lifts the water usage restrictions, 198 days of boiling and bleaching water will come to an end.

People have been drinking bottled water, and bleaching the water they wash with, since Canada's worst outbreak of E. coli bacteria earlier this year.

Seven people died and more than 2,000 were made ill when the water system was contaminated by a deadly strain of E. coli in May.

Since then, the water has undergone rigorous testing, and the town has ripped up and replaced pipes. A new filtering system has been installed.

And a public inquiry is under way to determine what happened.

McQuigge will report on his own extensive tests of the water and he's expected to say it's safe.

But the town's confidence in its water supply has been shattered. Some say they will never drink the town water again.

Water manager delays testimony

While one man at the centre of Walkerton's water woes holds court to declare the water safe, the other central figure has said he won't be appearing at the inquiry as scheduled.

Stan Koebel was the manager of the water system when heavy spring rains apparently washed runoff from a farm into one of the town's wells.

He hasn't spoken publicly about his role in what happened in the days following the contamination, and now won't until next week at the earliest.

RELATED STORY: Mayor breaks down at Walkerton inquiry

He was expected to testify starting Wednesday, but is instead being evaluated by a psychiatrist to see if he is fit to testify.

He may appear at the inquiry next week.

Koebel has been on a leave of absence from his job at the public utilities commission since May.

The inquiry has been told Koebel knew about the contamination but didn't tell anyone while he tried to flush the water system.

-- Rachel Gibson (ribson@hotmail.com), December 05, 2000


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