I have to drink Steele Springs water and this quibbling over what to call our drinking water (apart from something unprintable) is asinine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, be it government health regulations are a conspiracy or precautionary rules are for sissies. I don’t care. But I do care passionately that people have enough correct information to act how they see fit.
Technically speaking, Steele Springs has a water advisory, a meaningless term unless you are on the receiving end of one. Steele Springs water users were advised by the Interior Health Authority not to drink or cook with the water, and to use bottled water. It has been for two years since nitrate concentrations exceeded 10 parts per million, at which point, IHA issued the water advisory and posted the risks to human health from nitrate consumption.
That said, the Canadian water quality limit has no safety factor. This means there are no known safe levels of nitrates. Most naturally occurring water has no or barely detectable concentrations of nitrates.
Levels above three parts per million indicate an unnatural source of pollution, generally human-influenced. Just below 10 ppm is not considered normal. It is simply below the recommended limit.
Who should avoid drinking water at or above the Canadian limit for nitrates? It is safe to say everybody. For sure, infants must be given bottled water for formula, pregnant women should completely avoid nitrates, and the elderly shouldn’t drink nitrates, nor should the immune-compromised. People with chronic diseases like diabetes, or those receiving treatment for cancers or other medical conditions are prudent to avoid nitrates, and for the few remaining healthy adults, there is an elevated risk of gastric cancers over time.
Still quibbling over what to call unsafe water and who shouldn’t drink it? This is a public health and safety issue, and those of us with unsafe drinking water need to make informed choices.