The Water Chronicles

The Water Chronicles

September 06, 2012 09:00 ET

REMINDER: Lax Water Advisory Reporting in Quebec Could Endanger Lives

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 6, 2012) - Three Boil water advisories in the municipality of Gatineau, - Hull dated November 2011, Aylmer, May 2012 and Gatineau dated August 2012- were left on Quebec's Environment website for 30 to 290 days because of a misplaced fax. They have now been lifted following calls from The Water Chronicles.

The advisories affected 200,000 people in Gatineau, a municipality that regroups Hull, Aylmer, Gatineau, Buckingham and Masson-Angers.

The Water Chronicles randomly checks advisories posted on provincial websites; Gatineau's advisories were red flagged because of their range and the absence of media reports for advisories of this extent in a major city.

On Friday, August 31, initial calls to municipal and provincial officials were inconclusive; the province saying they would look into it and the city claiming that there were no advisories in its municipality.

On September 4, the advisories had disappeared from the provincial website. According to Liette Fontaine, an official at Quebec's Outaouais regional environment office, the City of Gatineau sends a fax to the province when an advisory is posted and another, once tests have proven the water safe and the advisory is lifted.

"Occasionally a fax might get lost, or the city forgets to advise us when a bwa is rescinded," she said. "There are many water advisories in Gatineau since the city publishes precautionary bwas due to construction or repairs. Although it is not required in Quebec", she added.

Pierre Tremblay of the City of Gatineau Infrastructure Services said that the City is required to re-emit a water advisory if it has not been lifted after a few weeks. Although the city's first responsibility is to its citizens, a fax is usually sent to the province at the same time. As a point in case, he added that he had the fax confirmation for a bwa notice he sent to the province yesterday, September 3, for Buckingham.

As of yet, the Buckingham bwa does not appear on the province's website.

"This begs the question of the validity of all water advisory reporting in the province of Quebec", said Water Chronicles publisher Josée Dechêne.

The Water Chronicles' Advisory Maps provide daily updates on water advisories across Canada.

For mobile users, the information is also available on The Waterkeeper Drink Guide, a free smartphone app produced in collaboration with The Water Chronicles.

In an emergency, if all else fails, our twitter feed offers a handy alternate source of advisory information.

Our Guide to Canada's Drinking Water offers a province by province listing of drinking water websites, phone and email contacts for anyone who has questions about their water.

The Water Chronicles is an online media dedicated to all things water. It has published water advisories since 2006. The site also reports on lakes, rivers, municipalities and the Arctic.

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