CHARLIE LAKE, B.C. – Northern Health has upgraded to a do not consume order for tap water in Shady Acres mobile home park after discovering high levels of manganese in the water.

On Friday, Northern Health issued a boil water advisory for the mobile home park because of bacterial contamination in the tap water. However, further testing revealed high levels of manganese in the water as well.

Eryn Collins with Northern Health says boiling will increase levels of manganese in the water.

“Manganese is not a bacteria. It’s an element. It’s like a nutrient in the water. When you boil it, it further concentrates manganese levels,” Collins explained.

“So the boil water notice would have addressed the bacterial concerns, but not the manganese levels. For lack of a better term, it has been upgraded to a do not consume order,” Collins continued.

Residents took to social media to voice their confusion after receiving information about the boil water advisory on Friday and then a handout about manganese on Monday night from their landlords.

According to the EPA, children and adults who drink water with high levels of manganese for a long time may have problems with memory, attention and fine motor skills.

Northern Health says that infants are at greater risk from manganese in drinking water than children and adults. In areas with high levels of manganese in water, the health authority says residents should use an alternate source of water, like bottled water, to prepare infant formula.

“Infant formula itself already contains the appropriate level of manganese. When you reconstitute it with water that has an elevated manganese level, it’s that much more exposure,” Collins said

Collins adds that while residents shouldn’t consume the water, it is still safe for most hygienic purposes.

“The water is considered safe for washing your hands, bathing, showering. Brushing your teeth is excluded from that because there’s a potential that you would consume the water in that instance,” Collins said.

“Residents should use an alternate water source for that purpose and to cook anything they will consume.”

For more information about manganese exposure, view the document below.

Spencer Hall is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca and a recent graduate of the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Radio Arts & Entertainment program. Growing up in Northwest B.C. made Spencer aware of the importance of local journalism, independent media, and reconciliation. In his spare time, you can find Spencer reading, playing video games, or at the FSJ dog park with his dog, Teddy.