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Water Today Title July 7, 2022

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Update 2017/1/2
Advisory Report


1,655 advisories were issued in 2016 across Canada, 118 more than in 2015. Most of the advisories occur in small communities across the country. We have tallied the total number of advisories for each province for both 2016 and 2015. The picture that emerges is however flawed in that there is no national regulatory framework for reporting advisories. Each province has its own approach, many have adopted different advisory designations, and some provinces do not list their advisories online at all, leaving media to report advisories issued by health units.

Saskatchewan leads in number of advisories issued in both 2015 and 2016. This is largely attributable to the high number of small communities in the province and the very comprehensive reporting system the province has put in place. Saskatchewan lists all advisories whether in municipalities or small drinking water systems. The total number of advisories in 2016 was 603; 14 of these were in First Nations communities and 46 of them are still in effect. In 2015, there were 631 advisories, with 12 in First Nation communities and 26 still in effect.

Québec comes next with a total of 278 advisories in 2016, 28 of which are still in effect. In 2015, the province issued 241 advisories, 22 of which are still in effect. Québec also reports all advisories in small drinking water systems which account for the majority of the advisories issued; for example there are currently 8 school across the province under Do Not Consume advisory. The province however does not report preventive advisories caused by repairs, these are issued by the owners of the systems who are responsible for contacting media and users. Reasons for the advisories are never provided.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, 260 advisories were issued in 2016 with 44 still in place. In 2015, there were 276 advisories issued with 14 still active. The high number of advisories in Newfoundland and Labrador is due mostly to the high number of small inadequate systems in countless small communities scattered across the island. While the province has solved some of the water issues in small communities, many of the advisories re-occur over and over in the same communities.

There were 261 advisories issued in British Columbia in 2016, of which 129 are still in effect. Most of the advisories in BC are for small drinking water systems of which there are some 4,000 across the province. In 2015 there 158 advisories issued with 36 of them still in effect.

Nova Scotia is next in line for the number of advisories issued; there were 201 in 2016; only 19 of these were for municipal systems and 26 of them are still in effect. In 2015 there were 181 advisories issued with only 2 in municipalities. The vast majority of advisories across the province are for small systems such as daycares, campgrounds, inns, restaurants and small businesses.

In Ontario, 98 advisories were issued in 2016, 20 of these were for provincial parks and 16 for First Nation communities, 22 of the advisories issued are still in effect. In 2015, there were 133 advisories issued, with 26 in provincial parks and 22 in First Nation communities; 6 of these are still in effect. With 36 public health units reporting advisories in Ontario, the quality of reporting is very uneven; some units list advisories on their website while others don't. Public Health Units in Ontario also no longer report on small drinking water systems with the exception of Eastern Ontario and Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge.

Manitoba had 97 advisories in 2016, 27 of which are still in effect; in 2015, there were 102 advisories issued with 11 of them still in effect. Manitoba reports punctually on public and semi-public water systems. The province recently overhauled its advisory reporting system. While reasons for the advisories are sitll not given, the province added the expected length of the advisories and the number of people affected.

In New Brunswick there were 51 advisories issued in 2016, only 1 of which is still in effect; in 2015 there were 45, all of which are now lifted. The low number of advisories in New Brunswick is largely due to the fact that 66.5 per cent of the population gets its drinking water from groundwater, and are owners responsible for testing their own wells.

In Alberta, there were 28 advisories issued in 2016, all of these with the exception of 5 were issued in First Nation communities, 4 are still active. In 2015, there were 21 advisories with 20 in First Nation communities; 2 of these are still active. The province consolidated its public health units under one umbrella , Alberta Health Services, in 2008. This new approach has greatly improved the province's reporting on public health alerts.

Prince Edward Island reported 2 advisories in 2016, as opposed to 0 in 2015. The province is entirely dependent on groundwater collected from sandstone aquifers for its drinking water.

Nunavut set up a reporting system under its Health Department in 2015. In 2016, 5 advisories were issued and rescinded; in 2015 there were 5 advisories issued, none of these are now active.

In Yukon, there was one advisory issued and lifted for Watson Lake in 2016. No advisories were issued in 2015.

In 2016, one advisory was issued for Tulita in the Northwest Territoriesdue to turbidity; two advisories were issued in 2015 for Yellowknife (turbidity) and Deline (E.coli). There has been an advisory in Colleville Lake since 2004.

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