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Boil advisory still in effect in Havre

City pool re-opens

After printing deadline for this story, Havre Community Pool announced Hill County Health Department cleared it to reopen. See a related story at

The water boil advisory still is in effect in Havre, with the end date still unknown, but city officials say work is progressing as required.

The Havre advisory tells people that they should boil water for at least a minute before using it for drinking, cooking or brushing teeth to prevent any chance of being affected by the parasite giardiasis, which can cause illness.

A release on the advisory said the city was notified by the Hill County Health Department April 12 of the outbreak — three cases — of Giardiasis, and the boil advisory is being issued in an abundance of caution.

Kim Berg, the Hill County Health Department director as well as the county health officer, said the five-year average for confirmed Giardiasis cases in the county is one per year and the county already has three cases in the first quarter this year.

Mayor Doug Kaercher said Monday that the water treatment plant has been running smoothly since an event in February, and Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were on site doing inspections,

“He said officials still have not been able to link the parasite directly to the water supply, but have not been able to link it anywhere else, which leaves the water supply suspect and led to the boil advisory.

Meanwhile, the city has increased the amount of chlorine it is using to make sure high levels are throughout the city water supply and is flushing the system to remove any Giardia that may be present.

The advisory advises people not to drink any water without boiling it first. Bring all water to a boil for at least one minute, and cool before using, or use bottled water of their preference. Boiled or bottled water is advised to be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water provided by a public water supply.

Giardia infection may be acquired without producing any symptoms, and this is often the case for children. In symptomatic patients, acute diarrhea is the predominate symptom. In some instances, diarrhea may be transient and mild, passing without notice; in others diarrhea can be chronic.

Other symptoms may include abdominal cramps, bloating, flatulence, steatorrhea (daily losses of fat in feces greater than 7 grams), weight loss, and occasional vomiting. Stools may be pale in color, greasy, and malodorous/foul-smelling. Weight loss may be significant. In some patients, symptoms may last for only 3 or 4 days, while for other patients, symptoms may last for months or years if untreated. If you experience one or more of these symptoms, contact your health care provider as soon as possible.

People who have a severely compromised immune system, have an infant, are pregnant, or are elderly may be at increased risk and should seek advice from their health care providers about precautions and methods to reduce health risks with any drinking water.

Increased disinfection of drinking water and flushing to reduce the likeliness of pathogens throughout the distribution system are measures being taken by the City of Havre public water supply.

The presence of the water-borne parasite still has not been confirmed in Havre water, but Kaercher said Monday morning that, because it has not been ruled out as the source, the boil advisory was put in place in an abundance of caution.

The impact extends to the Havre Community Pool and other pools in the area, which the county has ordered closed until more information is available.

“We have chosen to close the community pool because it is the best step we can take with the information we have at this time to protect the public,” Hill County Health Officer Kim Ber

g said Monday. “As I have more information we will reevaluate and hopefully get the pool open.”

The Havre Water Treatment Plant has increased its use of chorine to kill any giardia that made be in the water supply and is continuing to flush the city water system, Kaercher said.

In response to the boil advisory, a local church provided water to residents Monday and Tuesday

Pastor Jamie Stoll of the Havre Assembly of God Church said that, when he found out about the boil advisory, he reached out to the Convoy of Hope organization his church works with to see if it could do anything.

Convoy of Hope sent a semi tractor-trailer with 18 pallets of water, and parishioners Lon and Stacey Waid brought in a Bobcat to unload the truck, Stoll said.

The church distributed the water to residents in neighborhoods Monday and at the church Tuesday

Kaercher said the city still has no set end date for the boil advisory, with Montana Department of Environmental Quality estimating 15-30 days until the city water can be eliminated as a suspected source of the giardia.

He and Berg each said they would notify the publics with updates and if anything changes.

He said an event in February led to temporarily shutting the plant down and putting out a warning, which has not been directly linked to the Giardiasis,

In that event, a high level of turbidity — sediment — came into the plant from the Milk River, which is the source of Havre’s municipal water. Kaercher said the substance still has not been identified.

The turbid water did not go into the city water, and the plant has been operating well since, Kaercher said.

When the Giardiasis notice came in, the city implemented the boil advisory in an abundance of caution, even though the city water supply is not directly linked to the cases, he said.

“We want to make sure that we were covering those who are most at risk,” he said.

He said the advisory still has no effective end date, with the agencies saying it should last 15 to 30 days while it is shown the water supply is not a threat.


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