BOISE – After weeks of investigating and a lot of questions, people who live along a canal that runs through Boise's North End finally have some answers. We first told you about this story on April 4th.
A canal, owned by Boise City Canal Company, that is supposed to just contain water, started turning white a handful of times a day and several times a week. Homeowners turned to KTVB for answers.
Before we originally did this story the Ada County Highway District and the City of Boise were aware of this situation and both tested the Meadow Gold Dairy facility. Neither agency could find any place where milk could have made its way into canal system. ACHD also looked into the storm drains since those drain into the canal.
"We think it's not coming from the drains. We've checked our drains and we haven't found any kind of a residue or any foreign matter," said Craig Quintana, Ada County Highway District public information officer.
Those tests are why the city and canal officials told us that milk was not the reason this canal was white. But the homeowners we talked to always felt that it was milk.
A new test taken from a sample on April 11th confirms what the homeowners thought all along.
ACHD decided to test the water up and downstream from the dairy and found no measurable amount of milk upstream from the dairy, but did find something downstream from the dairy, 28 parts per million of a milk allergen.
"That's what we got from the samples, what we draw, the conclusion to be drawn from that, we don't know. All we know at this point is we can confidently say we don't think it's anything coming out of the storm drain system," said Quintana.
Now that the canal is up and running for the season getting in and finding the source could be difficult.
"We've inspected the system and we've run remote television cameras down there and as far as we can tell, the system is sound," said Quintana. "The mystery endures. We don't know the transmission path at this point."
The Environmental Protection Agency is now involved and investigating - but who or what - they can't say right now.
Statement from Dean Foods, parent company to Meadow Gold:
We take our role as environmental stewards very seriously, and we’ve been actively investigating this situation in partnership with the City of Boise Public Works Department and the Ada County Highway District officials. We are treating this with the utmost of importance and share the concerns of the community. Our facility does not tie into the canal system, and the city has confirmed that there is no physical connection between our facility and the canal.
Nevertheless, to fully investigate the situation, we’ve taken the following actions:
- We have fully cooperated with the city to allow them to dye check our drains, and they have not detected any problems. In a letter dated April 2, the city confirmed that we are in compliance with our discharge permits, and that we do not have any physical connection that appears to be discharging into the canal.
- We have contracted our own video work to explore our production drains, again not finding connections to the canal.
- We hired a well-respected environmental engineering firm to investigate our facility. To this date, they have found no issues that point to our facility as a source.
- We ran side-by-side samples of the water in the canal on the same day and in the same area as the Ada County Highway District, and our reports from a certified lab indicate “NDA – No Detectable Amount” of milk allergens at either test site, upstream or downstream. We cannot explain the discrepancies between our results and that of the ACHD, but we are satisfied that our results are from a lab that is certified to analyze the samples from the testing kit used.
We will continue to fully cooperate with the appropriate agencies as they try to locate the actual source of any potential problems with the canal.