WAF conducts further tests with MOH on Balevuto water supply after claims of 3 deaths connected to contaminated water
No dead cattle or anything unusual present at the dam site - WAF

WAF conducts further tests with MOH on Balevuto water supply after claims of 3 deaths connected to contaminated water

No dead cattle or anything unusual present at the dam site - WAF

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 08/09/2023
Water Authority of Fiji Chief Operating Officer Seru Soderberg

The findings from the Balevuto water supply system testing carried out on Saturday complied with the Fiji National Drinking Water Quality Standards and there were no dead cattle or anything unusual present at the dam site according to Water Authority of Fiji Chief Operating Officer, Seru Soderberg.

There is a real concern after the Ministry of Health said last night that three people have died since Tuesday after drinking contaminated water in Balevuto, Ba.

The Health Ministry says villagers allegedly reported that a dead cow is the cause of contamination, and tests have been carried out by the Ministry’s Health Inspectors along with officers from WAF.

The Ministry is concerned with an increase in the number of diarrhoea cases from residents of Balevuto due to the contaminated water source and there are more cases being reported from Nukuloa, Nacaci and Toge.

Soderberg says as raw water quality in the catchment changes with weather and catchment events, WAF is investigating if there are any other possible sources of contamination.

He says WAF is working with the Ministry of Health to validate water sampling test results and to ensure public health remains their utmost priority.

The two teams are carrying out additional testing within the Balevuto System today.

WAF has around 750 metered customers within the Balevuto scheme, with the majority of these customers maintaining standby water tanks.

The WAF team will also explore a house to house verification in the affected area with the focus to check household water tanks for possible contaminants.

Soderberg states that WAF officials from its Operations and Water Quality Laboratory were immediately deployed to investigate the claims made earlier this month about the dead cattle carcass within its raw water supply dam catchment and to carry out water sampling testing.

He says the water samples were also analysed for microbiological contamination, and the results showed there were no total and fecal coliforms present in the treated water from the scheme.

Soderberg says they carried out further verifications on Sunday by walking the entire catchment tributary streams to check for any dead cattle and they also carried out desilting works at the dam to verify if the carcass was within the dam which again confirmed that there were no carcass present.

He says WAF has also carried out extensive flushing on its reticulation and cleaned the reservoir that serves the Balevuto scheme, in efforts to ensure consistent water quality and put rest to the rumours on water contamination.

Soderberg says additional samples were taken from the scheme yesterday and are being tested to check for compliance.

Their team yesterday also surveyed the dam catchment to check for any potential contamination source, however, no source of contamination was identified during this exercise

The Ministry of Health advises members of the public in Balevuto and nearby areas to boil all drinking water and adhere to best hygiene practices like proper hand washing with soap and water before and after meals and also after visiting the toilet.

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