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Students at Somerset Elementary drinking from bottles as school searches for well solution

Liv, left, and Abi Bulman, show off their water bottles outside their school, Somerset Elementary School in Kinkora. Staff and students at the school will have to drink bottled water for a while, until Public School’s Branch finds a way to fix the ongoing water quality issues at the school.
Liv, left, and Abi Bulman, show off their water bottles outside their school, Somerset Elementary School in Kinkora. Staff and students at the school will have to drink bottled water for a while, until Public School’s Branch finds a way to fix the ongoing water quality issues at the school. - Colin MacLean

A persistent issue with the well water at Somerset Elementary School means staff and students will be drinking bottled water for the foreseeable future.

The Public School’s Branch (PSB) has been trying to deal with elevated coliform levels and silt in the Kinkora school’s water supply for more than a year. Coliforms are a class of bacteria that can indicate other potentially harmful contaminants.

A new well, brought online in March, 2018, fixed the silt issue, but nothing PSB have tried has cleared up the consistently high coliform levels.

Staff and students were not allowed to drink the well water last June, prior to leaving for the summer break, and are still not allowed now that they are back to classes for a new year.

“We’ve had extensive efforts this summer to try and resolve the issue, but unfortunately to date, we haven’t been able to resolve it on a consistent basis,” said John Cummings, director of Corporate Services with PSB.

Cummings added that PSB recently retained the services of North Wiltshire-based Joose Environmental to determine a long-term fix.

“We’ve shared our testing results with them, explained the situation and they’re in the process of helping us determine next steps.”

Cummings added that Joose Environmental was not given a deadline to do its work, but said he hopes they will have a course of action “in the near future.”

In the meantime, staff and students will either be bringing bottles from home to fill at water coolers or taking bottled water available at the school. The water is still OK to use for washing hands but additional hand sanitizer has also been made available.

Two parents with children at the school who spoke with the Journal Pioneer said they were not overly concerned about the situation.

“They are aware of the problem and are working on it. As a parent, I can easily send a water bottle with my little one until it has been resolved. Can't fault the PSB on this one. They are educators, not magicians,” said Janet Payne, who has a son in Grade 1.

“The issue is being worked on and sending a water bottle is easy,” added Jennifer Duffy, who has a son in Grade 7 and a daughter in Grade 5.

Colin.MacLean@JournalPioneer.com

@JournalPMacLean

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