Drinking Water Advisories in Canada

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In 2015, 78% of boil water advisoriesFootnote [1] in Canada were issued on a precautionary basis due to problems with drinking water equipment or processes. By contrast, boil water advisories issued due to the detection of Escherichia coli (E. coli) in drinking water samples accounted for 5%. Boil water advisories related to other microbiological water quality parameters, such as the detection of total coliform bacteria or unacceptable turbidity levels, accounted for 17% of total boil water advisories.

Most boil water advisories are issued because the equipment and processes used to treat, store or distribute drinking water break down, require maintenance, or have been affected by environmental conditions. This broad array of reasons includes issues such as broken water mains, planned system maintenance, power failures or equipment problems. In some cases, extreme weather or heavy rains may cause the quality of surface or ground water sources to temporarily worsen, challenging the drinking water treatment system. Boil water advisories issued for equipment and process related reasons are generally issued before any actual decline in drinking water quality and are in place until conditions return to normal.

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