The B.C. government is warning residents of the Lower Mainland who rely on private wells that liquid manure overflow may have contaminated their water supply.
Catastrophic flooding during the month of November may have caused liquid manure storage systems to overflow, said the Health Department on Saturday.
Residents in the Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley regional districts are being advised to assess their wells and “take action to protect the people who use water from the well,” the Health Department wrote in a news statement.
According to the province, liquid manure may have been released through the movement of animals, the disposal of milk in manure storage systems, or excessive precipitation into the storage systems.
The consumption of water contaminated by fecal matter, which contains harmful bacteria, can lead to gastrointestinal illness, says the HealthLink BC website.
Symptoms of E. coli infection include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea, but the infection will usually go away on its own if a patient drinks lots of water.
The Environment Department is requiring flood-impacted agricultural operators whose manure storage systems may have overflowed to report to the ministry by Dec. 19.
Some 628,000 chickens, 420 dairy cattle and 12,000 pigs died during the floods, and thousands more were evacuated along with the residents of hard-hit communities.