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North Battleford, Saskatchewan City, Under Boil Water Advisory

08/12/2015 05:31 EDT | Updated 08/12/2015 05:59 EDT
Tim Graham via Getty Images
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 16: Water drips from a domestic tap, United Kingdom.

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — Residents of a Saskatchewan city are being told to boil their tap water as a precaution because it might be contaminated.

The Saskatchewan Water Security Agency says the entire city of North Battleford, with a population of about 14,000, is under a boil-water advisory.

The agency says the advisory is due to a six-minute "process error" at one of the city's water treatment plants.

An official says the city is trying to determine if 8,000 litres of partially treated water that passed through the system during that time made it out of the plant to residents.

The advisory says all drinking water - as well as water used for dishwashing, washing fruit and vegetables and brushing teeth - must be brought to a roiling boil for one minute.

More than 7,000 North Battleford residents became sick in 2001 when a parasite called cryptosporidium entered the water supply during routine maintenance of a chemical filter.

Lab tests confirmed 361 cases of illness. No one died.

An inquiry into the outbreak concluded the city systematically failed to recognize its responsibilities for the water supply.

An inquiry report also criticized the province's Environment Department as being an ''inadequate and ineffective" regulator. The city's water treatment plant had not been inspected by the province for 10 years.

At least 800 people who sued over the outbreak reached out-of-court settlements paid by the city and the Saskatchewan government.

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