Ville de Gatineau
Boil water and drinking water avoidance advisories – Everything you need to know
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Boil water and drinking water avoidance advisories – Everything you need to know
Boil water and drinking water avoidance advisories – Everything you need to know

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When and why does Gatineau release a boil water advisory or a drinking water avoidance advisory?

There are three types of advisories: preventive and regulatory boil water advisories, and drinking water avoidance advisories.

Preventive boil water advisory

A preventive boil water advisory is released as soon as there is a pressure drop in the system. This can occur as a result of:

  • planned work; or
  • an unexpected development, such as a water main rupture or a power failure.

Gatineau will not take any chances in those cases, and asks everyone to boil their drinking water as a preventive measure before consuming it, until the test results are out, which generally takes 48 hours.

If the tests are negative, the boil water advisory is lifted.
If the tests are positive, Gatineau issues a regulatory advisory.

Regulatory boil water advisory

A regulatory boil water advisory is issued when tests indicate the presence of bacteria. Affected homes, businesses and establishments must then boil their drinking water until an advisory is issued indicating that the situation is back to normal.

Drinking water avoidance advisory

A drinking water avoidance advisory is issued when the drinking water may be contaminated by chemicals that pose a health risk. This preventive measure prohibits the drinking water's consumption because the contaminant in question cannot be eliminated by boiling.

A drinking water avoidance advisory may also be issued when there is a marked or unexpected change in the colour, smell or taste of the drinking water and the source cannot be determined.

When an advisory is issued, even if the water is clear, odourless and tasteless, it may still be contaminated and pose a health risk. Thus, it is important to follow the advisory issued by either municipal or non-municipal water system authorities.

For additional information, consult this document (French only) issued by the Government of Quebec.

How does Gatineau inform the public?

When fewer than 100 homes are affected by an advisory, door hangers are distributed door to door. The same method is used once the advisory is lifted.

When more than 100 homes are affected, Gatineau:

  • issues a news release to all regional media;
  • makes an automated call to every home within the affected perimeter — it should be noted that Gatineau cannot reach people whose phone number is not listed in the 911 database;
  • posts an alert on its Web site;
  • sends an RSS feed to everyone who has signed up for this type of notice;
  • issues a message through Twitter and Facebook; and
  • sends an alert by e-mail and text message to everyone who has signed up.

What should you do to receive advisories?

Gatineau does everything it can to inform you, but to do so, it needs access to your phone number or e-mail address. If you have an unlisted phone number, Gatineau will not be able to call you. It is up to you to provide us with this information 

There are a number of ways you can receive advisories:

  • if your phone number is listed in the 911 database, you should receive an automated call - you can also make sure you don't miss anything by using the other options available to you;
  • you can fill out a form to receive an e-mail or an SMS text message every time an advisory is issued for your sector;
  • you can sign up for the RSS feed, news releases and media advisories to receive all Gatineau advisories;
  • you can consult the municipal Web site (also configured for smart phones);
  • you can sign up to follow Gatineau on Twitter and Facebook; and
  • you can check and tune in to regional media.

What should I do when a boil water advisory or a drinking water avoidance advisory affects my sector?

You should follow the instructions below until the advisory is lifted.

Uses Boil water advisory Drinking water avoidance advisory
Immediate consumption

  • drinking and preparing drinks;
  • preparing baby bottles and food;
  • washing and preparing food consumed raw (fruit, vegetable, etc.);
  • preparing food that does not require much cooking (canned soup, dessert, etc.);
  • making ice; and
  • providing water for pets.
Boil tap water on high heat for at least one minute or use bottled water.

Discard ice (be sure to remember the reservoirs in refrigerators), drinks and food prepared using tap water that was not boiled.
Do not consume tap water in the affected perimeter. Boiling the water is useless in these cases. Use bottled water.

Discard ice (be sure to remember the reservoirs in refrigerators), drinks and food prepared using tap water.
Consumption with cooking

  • Preparing food and meals that involve extensive boiling.
You can use the water straight from the tap. Do not consume tap water in the affected perimeter. Boiling the water is useless in these cases. Use bottled water.
Brushing teeth and rinsing your mouth Boil tap water on high heat for at least one minute or use bottled water. Do not consume tap water in the affected perimeter. Boiling the water is useless in these cases. Use bottled water.
Washing dishes (by hand or in the dishwasher) You can use the water straight from the tap to:

  • wash dishes with hot water and detergent, as long as you dry them thoroughly;
  • run the dishwasher as long as it is set on the hottest cycle.
Do not use tap water to wash dishes either by hand or in the dishwasher. Use bottled water.
Taking a shower or a bath You can use the water straight from the tap.

Make sure that young children do not drink the water or wash them with a face cloth.
Do not use tap water to shower or bathe.
Washing clothes You can use the water straight from the tap. Do not use tap water to wash clothes. Wait until the advisory is lifted or use a laundromat that is not affected by the advisory.

What should I do once the advisory is lifted?

Boil water advisory Drinking water avoidance advisory
Open the cold water taps and let the water run for one minute or until it gets cold before using it. Follow the same procedure for water fountains.

Discard ice (be sure to remember the reservoirs in refrigerators), drinks and food prepared using tap water that was not boiled.
Open the hot and cold water tapsin the bathtub or shower and let the water run for 60 minutes.

Then open all your taps and let the water run for five minutes.

It is recommended that you replace any filters in water filtration systems (e.g. Brita).

If you detect an unusual odour, let the water run longer to empty the reservoirs.

Discard ice (be sure to remember the reservoirs in refrigerators), drinks and food prepared using tap water during the advisory.

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About Gatineau

Recognized for its quality of life, Gatineau is a city of 285,000 inhabitants. It is located on the north shore of the Ottawa River, and extends east and west of the Gatineau River.

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