Published on: October 30, 2020

Boil Advisory: a Look Back at an Uncommon Event

So here we are, just coming off an episode of boil advisory that lasted almost four days. In order to fully understand what happened, let’s help ourselves to a large glass of our water and dissect the obligations of a town in its management of drinking water. We will come back later on the events of the last few days.

The Town conducts a weekly microbiological analysis of its water. Two samples per week are taken and sent to the laboratory for microbiological analysis.  
The results must not reveal the presence of pathogenic microorganisms or bacteria such as E. coli.

The test reveals that something is wrong? The laboratory then informs Public Health and the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MELCC). Both of these agencies contact the Town for further action, including issuing a boil advisory, a return to compliance and lifting the boil advisory.

Let’s review what happened in our case. A non-compliant sample was announced by the laboratory on Friday (it had been taken on October 21), hence the widespread boiling advisory. 

The MELCC subsequently asked us to take four samples per day on two consecutive days to regain compliance. They were taken on Saturday and Sunday. Since the laboratory turnaround time for analysis is 24 to 48 hours, the results, all compliant, were released Tuesday morning. The lifting of the boil advisory was announced immediately. 

Now, what happened with the October 21 sample? There is good reason to believe that external factors may have interfered with the sampling process, despite all the precautions that were taken during this procedure.

For your information, the raw water from the Town’s four groundwater wells has recently been bacteria-free, and the water extracted from the wells is also disinfected by chlorination to remove any viruses. Everything is “spick and span” on this side. There have been no major breakdowns or work on the system recently, so the explanation for the contamination is being crossed off the notebook.

Finally, have you received our (very numerous) alerts in a language other than the one you are fluent in? If so, contact us at 450 243-6111 and we will make the change for you.

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