Random testing of drinking fountains across the city produced no E. coli, indicating that the water is safe to drink, a recent study show.
The study was completed by Algoma Public Health at the request of city council earlier this year.
The purpose of the study was to examine the hygiene of drinking water fountains and determine whether water quality could affect public health.
Bacteria can live and grow on surfaces for hours, so if water fountains are not wiped down regularly or kept clean, bacteria can thrive.
Ingesting the bacteria could lead to gastrointestinal problems and pneumonia-like symptoms in users.
The study was to determine the state of drinking water fountains in public places in Sault Ste. Marie.
Eight drinking water fountains were randomly selected for the review, including ones at GoodLife Fitness, Bellevue Park, APH, Senior Drop-In Centre, Sault Golf Club, Sault College, John Rhodes Centre and the Public Library.
An evaluation process was used to rate the visible cleanliness of the fountains, test the temperature of the water, the ‘arch’ of the water. The water was tested within two hours of the sample taken.
All samples resulting in no presence of E. coli or total coliforms.
The results concluded that the general hygiene of the drinking water fountain did not affect the bacteriological quality of the water.
The samples taken varied in temperature, height of the water flow and visible contamination.
The worst offenders were Bellevue Park and the Sault Country Golf Club with visible contamination listed as “high” on those two fountains.
The study did result in APH making some recommendations to owners and operators of public drinking water fountains.
The fountains should have a sufficient “height” of water flow to prevent consumers from putting their mouths on the spouts.
Routine cleaning and disinfecting of water spouts according to manufacturer’s directions is also important, the report notes.
Ward 1 Coun. Steve Butland said he was pleased with the results from local drinking fountains.
He noted that after similar testing in Toronto, many of the drinking fountains had to be shut down because of high level of contamination.
Butland was the mover behind the initial request to APH after he was horrified when he saw a youngster at a public drinking fountain put his head under the tap to cool off during a break at a soccer practice.
The move was enough to ensure he didn’t drink the water, but went home to do some research on the subject and call city and health-care officials before penning the motion and presenting it to council.
With more groups encouraging the banning of water bottles, including the City of Sault Ste. Marie, water fountains need to be kept clean, Butland insists.Google+