Saseenos resident Mary Whitley noticed something unusual in the wash basin while washing her hands under the tap in the bathroom.
“They wiggled. That’s why I noticed them in the sink,” she said.
The tiny worm-like, motile organisms were about a millimetre long and translucent with a dark, almost black end.
She contacted a friend who is an environmental scientist, who said the worms were likely nematodes or roundworms. There are about 15,000 species of nematode in the world.
Her acquaintance said the organisms were unlikely to be pathogens, but could indicate potential problems with water supply or purity.
According to a Capital Regional District official, finding free-living nematodes, even deceased ones, at a drinking water tap in the Greater Victoria Drinking Water System is highly unlikely.
“While Greater Victoria’s drinking water is unfiltered, it receives multiple stages of disinfection treatment that would kill any aquatic organism before the water reaches the consumer’s taps,” said Andy Orr.
Orr said the organisms Whitley observed are more likely a species of drain worms that thrive in moist environments like plumbing fixtures.
“Over many years of microscopic examination of the Greater Victoria’s source water, qualified laboratory staff have observed very few free-living nematodes; it is therefore very unlikely that this is indeed what the customer saw,” Orr said.
Regular water quality samples from nearby sampling stations have confirmed excellent drinking water quality. Still, Orr said the concerns prompted further investigations into the area’s water supply and overall water quality.