It has been 15 years since the city was shook by a parasitic water contamination, yet the effects are still being felt.
In 2001 the parasite cryptosporidium was leaked into North Battleford drinking water causing an estimated 5,800 to 7,100 residents to fall ill in the Battlefords area.
City manager, Jim, Puffalt, addressed council about the latest class action settlement during the meeting Monday night. The settlement was signed in late September and given conditional approval in October of this year.
Puffalt said the outbreak mainly affected the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and the young.
This particular settlement involved those under the age of 18 who ingested the contaminated water and referred to them as the “infant class.” The settlement is worth $3.3 million and those who wish to submit their claim must do so by Jan. 17, 2017. How much money a claimant receives is based on the severity of their illness and how many days they spent in the hospital.
Puffalt said the city has never been the same since.
“I’m not sure the city can ever put the incident behind them,” Puffalt said. “We as a group take water very seriously because of our history. When that type of thing happens we want to make sure we take everything into account to make sure we never have it happen again.”
Puffalt said there is very “stringent” testing done to the water now to ensure it never happens again. He added if city staff has any doubt about water quality, it will not hesitate to put out a boiled water advisory.
“We have spent millions of dollars over the last 15 years to make sure our systems are up to date,” Puffalt said. “Our mindset and philosophy even comes into play when it comes to the oil spill. We just can’t take any chances at all and that’s why we are putting on that pre-filtration system onto the F.E. Holiday plant.”
Puffalt believes the reason the settlement took so long was due to the complexity of the case. He added the case took so long the original lawyer assigned to it has since retired. Puffalt said he inquired into how many more settlements are left from the incident and though the firm didn’t believe there were more, they couldn’t say for sure.
The city did not have to pay out any money. Puffalt said money from the settlements came from SGI and the province.
Greg Higgins is battlefordsNOW's city municipal affairs and health reporter. He can be reached at [email protected] or tweet him @realgreghiggins.
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