Water system operator sentenced to jail after failing to report low chlorine levels

Water operator's actions force residents to question water quality

A water system operator in Ontario, Canada, was sent to jail earlier this month after being found guilty of falsifying records for a period of five years. 

Lloyd Jarvis was sentenced to 30 days in jail for failing to report low chlorine levels in the distribution system.

According to The Star newspaper, “Jarvis and two other water treatment employees with the Municipality of West Elgin failed to notify the Ministry of Environment and the medical health officer on a number of instances from 2004 to 2009 when chlorine levels in the water supply fell below the minimum requirement of 0.05 mg/L to be safe for human consumption.” 

The West Elgin plant serves approximately 5,100 residents. Ministry officials began an investigation into the water treatment staff concerning water-quality records in March 2010. 

In the article, ministry spokesperson Kate Jordan said, “The inspection found the minimum level of chlorine wasn’t maintained and the logbook had been altered. We found that the logbooks had been altered and provided false information. They failed to report it was below the minimum level.” 

Jarvis plead guilty to 12 of 29 charges under the Safe Drinking Water Act, resulting in the jail time and $15,000 in total fines. The other two employees, Chad Yokom and Michael Kalita, also received fines, and the municipality received a fine of $129,000. 

A treatment plant following the distribution plant filters the water before it reaches residents, so there were no reports of illness. However, Jarvis’ discretion comes a decade after the Walkerton, Ont., E. coli outbreak when contaminated tap water left 2,500 residents severely ill. 


What about you?
What does your plant do to ensure records are accurate? Do employees monitor each other when entering information? Do you use an online computer system to compile data or rely on handwritten logbooks? Leave a comment or drop me a message at brianaj@colepublishing.com.


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