Water Quality Issues Plague Alberta Campground
A popular Strathcona County campground in Alberta must remain closed for the Canada Day long weekend due to ongoing water quality concerns after E-coli and arsenic were found in drinking water at the site, the Edmonton Journal reported.
Half Moon Lake Resort, about 24 miles east of Edmonton, won’t be open to the public until work is completed on its water and sewer systems and is approved by health inspectors, a Court of Queen’s Bench Justice ruled Thursday (June 30).
Inspectors are expected to be at the site on Canada Day to post notices about the closure, Alberta Health Services lawyer Rob O’Neill said outside court. He said RCMP officers will be assisting in enforcing the closure and any attempt to remain open would be breach of a court order, punishable by up to two years in jail.
O’Neill said concerns were initially raised in 2009 after water samples showed E-coli, arsenic and coliform bacteria in drinking water samples taken from the resort. Health inspectors also discovered sewage leaking onto the resort’s grounds, he said.
Health authorities worked with the resort to address water quality issues for two years before an executive officer’s order was issued in November 2010, ordering the resort closed until health issues were addressed, O’Neill said.
But inspectors found the resort open for business on this year’s May long weekend, O’Neill said.
Alberta Health Services took the resort, its director, Jack Purdy, and several other parties to court in June, seeking a judge’s order to uphold the health department’s directions to close the resort.
Two court orders were issued earlier this month and a third was issued Thursday to keep the resort closed.
“If there’s one thing we learned from Walkerton, it’s that E-coli is serious and you can’t wait for people to start dying before you do something about it because then it’s too late,” O’Neill said in reference to the seven people who died and hundreds made sick when the bacteria got into the supply in the southwest Ontario town.
The campground will remain closed until its water system passes an assessment.