Public invited to arsenic info session

Water quality notice to be issued to consumers

Arsenic levels in Virden’s drinking water are once again a matter of public interest. The Town of Virden has called a public information session to discuss water quality on the evening of Dec. 18.

It has announced in an advertisement in this edition of the Empire-Advance that water customers “will be receiving a water quality notice issued by Manitoba Health and the Office of Drinking Water advising consumers of levels of arsenic… that are in excess of the drinking water quality guidelines.”

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A graph published on the Town’s website shows a line that tracks how often Virden’s tap water has exceeded Health Canada guidelines for arsenic in drinking water and by how much over the last 14 months. Levels peaked as high as two and a half times the guideline in November 2018.

Over the years, the water treatment plant has done battle with the naturally-occurring poison by adding additional systems, including a green sand filter system, the most recent investment. The methods seem to work for a short period of time and then levels fall out of compliance again.

The Town says a study looking into finding a new source of drinking water with lower levels of arsenic is “nearing completion”.

At the upcoming meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 18, representatives from Manitoba Health, the Manitoba Office of Drinking Water, and Associated Engineering will be on hand to answer questions from the public. The meeting will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at the banquet hall in Tundra Oil & Gas Place and is open to all.

Long-time residents may recall a well-attended public meeting held in 2012 at the Aud Theatre, which was also called to deal with concerns over arsenic levels in drinking water.

© Virden Empire-Advance