Drinking Water Safety
Although some Lambton County residents obtain their drinking water from wells, most residents are served by a municipal system drawing water from Lake Huron. The Lake is an excellent source of clean water, but even treated water has the potential for quality concerns. It may therefore be necessary for the Medical Officer of Health to advise the public to either boil or stop using piped water until the problem has been resolved.
Depending on the nature of the problem, the Medical Officer of Health may issue one of the following types of advisories:
Boil Water Advisory – notifies and advises the public about precautions to take prior to using water for drinking and other purposes until the safety of the drinking water supply is confirmed or reinstated.
Under a Boil Water Advisory (BWA), you will be asked to use bottled water or, to bring your tap water to a rolling boil for at least one minute to make it safe. When a BWA is issued:
- Do not drink untreated tap water
- Do not gargle, brush your teeth or rinse dentures with untreated tap water
- Do not wash fruits, vegetables and other food with untreated tap water
- Do not make ice, juices, or other uncooked food preparations with untreated tap water
Drinking Water Advisory – notifies and advises the public about precautions to take prior to using water for any purpose, until the safety of the drinking water supply is confirmed or reinstated.
Unlike a Boil Water Advisory, water cannot be made safe for drinking by boiling it. This condition could arise because of a chemical contamination of the water supply and the contamination cannot be eliminated by boiling the water.
Under a Drinking Water Advisory (DWA):
- Do not drink tap water – use bottled water or an alternate safe water supply
- Do not gargle, brush your teeth or rinse dentures with tap water
- Do not wash fruits, vegetables and other food with tap water
- Do not make ice, juices, or other food preparations
- Do not forget about pets – do not let them drink tap water either!
- Residents might be advised not to use tap water for any household purposes, including showering and bathing.
Take steps now to be prepared for a possible interruption or contamination of the drinking water supply. Create a 72 hour stockpile of drinking water, allocating 4 litres of water per person per day (provide for pets too!). This amount should provide a sufficient quantity of water for drinking, cooking, washing, brushing teeth, etc. You can either purchase bottled water (take note of any “best before” dates and replace when necessary) or bottle your own (here’s how).
Local media will be informed of a water advisory through the media. Those residing in the affected area will be notified though My Community Notification Network and possibly via door-to-door notification.
After the cause of the advisory has been addressed and the drinking water has been made safe, only the Medical Officer of Health can lift the Boil Water or Drinking Water Advisory. Residents will normally be notified when the advisory has been lifted through the same means used to issue the advisory. As with any emergency, listen to your radio for news and updates.
If your drinking water has an unusual taste, colour or odour and you suspect that it has become contaminated, contact:
Lambton Public Health: 519 383-8331 / 1-800-667-1839