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How Bacteria Gets from Farm to Tap

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The deadly strain of E. coli in Walkerton's drinking water is speculated to have been sloshed into the water supply by an unusually heavy rain which saturated a nearby livestock operation, carrying contaminated runoff into the town's wells. Cryptosporidium in the water supply of North Battleford, Sask.

The deadly strain of E. coli in Walkerton's drinking water is speculated to have been sloshed into the water supply by an unusually heavy rain which saturated a nearby livestock operation, carrying contaminated runoff into the town's wells. Cryptosporidium in the water supply of North Battleford, Sask., has also surfaced in Collingwood and Kitchener, Ont., as well as the British Columbia communities of Cranbrook and Kelowna. According to Health Canada, cattle seem to be the primary source of the parasite Cryptosporidium, although they have been found in humans and other animals. Drinking water sources become contaminated when feces containing the parasites are deposited or flushed into water.
Unfortunately, micro-organisms like E. coli, Giardia (beaver fever) and Cryptosporidium are much more prevalent in our environment than we would like to think. They are carried in the feces of cattle, hogs and other warm-blooded animals by the billions and are easily transported to surface water by direct drainage, rainfalls or snow-melt.

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