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East Sooke neighbourhood tap water unsafe for infants, authorities warn

Water drips from a tap in a file photo. (Pexels / Nithin PA) Water drips from a tap in a file photo. (Pexels / Nithin PA)
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Health authorities are warning residents in a rural neighbourhood west of Victoria about high concentrations of manganese in their tap water, saying the mineral may pose health risks to infants.

The Capital Regional District and Island Health issued the warning Thursday, saying residents on the Wilderness Mountain water system in East Sooke should not allow infants to consume tap water and should not use the water to prepare infant formula.

The Wilderness Mountain water system encompasses approximately 73 residential service connections near the top of Mount Matheson. The system's water is sourced from the Wilfred Reservoir.

The CRD says elevated manganese levels can be a seasonal occurrence in the region.

High levels of manganese can make water appear brown, purple or black at concentrations less than 120 parts per billion, which Health Canada considers the maximum acceptable concentration in drinking water.

The current levels in the Wilderness Mountain system are 167 parts per billion, authorities said. Children less than a year old in the region should consume bottled water until the issue is resolved.

"As a precaution, it is recommended to avoid drinking discoloured water, or using discoloured water to prepare food or infant formula," the CRD said in a statement.

"Older children and adults are less sensitive to manganese than infants and Health Canada suggests that the health risk from manganese concentrations of less than 300 ppb is much lower for older children and adults."

The warning is in addition to an existing boil water advisory for the water service area. The CRD says it is working on improving water treatment in the Wilderness Mountain region.

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