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Water Chronicles Boil water Advisory (BWA) Maps

The Water Chronicles(water.ca) has been updating and posting Canadian water advisories, since 2006. Establishing drinking water quality criteria and publishing water advisories is a provincial responsibility in Canada .

Water.ca national maps give you an overview of water issues across Canada , including: Boil Water (yellow dots) Do Not Consume (red dots), Water Shortage (purple dots) and cyanobacteria contamination or Blue-Green Algae (cyan dots) advisories.
Our provincial maps give you more detailed information on the location and reason for the advisory.

As well as monitoring media releases, Water.ca checks all official provincial and municipal water advisory sources on a daily basis. The date posted on each provincial map indicates the latest advisory change for that province.

In spite of our efforts to make our list of advisories as accurate as possible , there may be some we missed. If you are aware of a boil water advisory not listed on our site, please send us an email   to let us know.

Map Clarity
For the sake of map clarity, when there are more than one advisory in a community, Water Chronicles groups them under one name, i.e. TownName (5). This avoids overcrowding the maps with pinpoints, making them difficult to read. This is especially the case in British Columbia , where one community may have many individual water systems.

Total number of BWAs  
The total number of Canadian water advisories in effect is posted each day on the front page, below the map. Because of the above decision to regroup all advisories in one community under one heading, our totals usually vary between 1380 and 1420. The actual number is even higher if you count the individual advisories in one community.  

In its   2008 Report , the CMAJ, which quotes the Water Chronicles, had total water advisories in Canada at 1766. The number of advisories has not changed much since then.

Go to Maps

Health Canada Information

What are the reasons for issuing boil water advisories or boil water orders?
A boil water advisory may be issued as a result of any of:
1) on evidence of conditions such as:

- unacceptable levels of disease-causing bacteria, viruses or parasites in the water system anywhere from the source to the tap,
- unacceptable levels in the cloudiness (turbidity) in the water at its originating source

These conditions can occur for many reasons including:
inadequate filtration and /or disinfection during treatment, re-contamination during distribution,

2) precautionary measure when there is concern that contamination may occur, for example local emergency repairs in the distribution system

A boil water order is usually issued where evidence indicates that the drinking water is or may be responsible for an outbreak of illness.

Is it necessary to boil all water in the home during an advisory or order?

During boil water advisories or boil water orders, you should boil all water used for drinking, preparing food , beverages, ice cubes, washing fruits and vegetables, or brushing teeth. Severely immunocompromised individuals should always boil their tap water for the purposes noted above. Infant formulas should be prepared using boiled tapwater, at all times. In the event that boiling is not practical, your local public health authority or other responsible authority may direct you to disinfect the water using household bleach, or to use an alternative supply known to be safe.  

It is not necessary to boil tap water used for other household purposes, such as showering, laundry, bathing, or washing dishes. Adults, teens, and older children can wash, bathe, or shower; however, they should avoid swallowing the water. Toddlers and infants should be sponge bathed.  

How should tap water be boiled properly?

Water should be placed in a heat-resistant container or in an electric kettle without an automatic shut-off and brought to a rolling boil for 1 minute to kill all disease-causing organisms. Water can also be boiled in a microwave oven using a microwave-safe container, but it is advisable to include a glass rod or wooden or plastic stir stick in the container to prevent the formation of superheated water (water heated above its boiling point, without the formation of steam). The water should then be cooled and poured into a clean container or refrigerated until you are ready to use it. At elevations over 2,000 metres water boils at a slightly lower temperature and should therefore be boiled for at least two minutes to kill all disease-causing organisms.

I have a water treatment device, do I still need to boil my drinking water?

If the device is designed to improve the taste and odour or chemical quality of the water, such as activated carbon filters, it is still necessary to boil the water. Devices designed to disinfect the water, such as a UV light units, may be used as an alternative to boiling. If the water is cloudy, filtration may be required before disinfection. Check with the manufacturer if you are not certain.  

Are extra precautions necessary during a waterborne outbreak?

In the event of a waterborne disease outbreak, public health or other responsible authorities may advise the public to wash their hands in a dilute solution of unscented household bleach and water (1 millilitre or 20 drops of unscented bleach per litre of water). This is particularly important before preparing or eating meals and after using the toilet, changing diapers, or handling animals. If dishes are washed by hand, they should be washed and rinsed in hot tap water, then soaked in a dilute solution of household bleach (20 millilitres of bleach in 10 litres of water) for 1 minute, and air dried. Dishwashers with a hot water cycle will disinfect dishes. These precautions should reduce the possible spread of illness and minimize the need to boil tap water.  

When is a boil water advisory or order lifted?

Boil water advisories or boil water orders are usually lifted by the responsible authority or water utility when the water is considered safe and no longer poses a threat to public health.  

What should I do when the boil water advisory or order has been lifted?

The responsible authority or water utility will provide instructions on flushing water pipes within the home. It is important to carefully follow the instructions provided. Water heaters may need to be disinfected and flushed to remove any contaminated water. Some types of water treatment devices may need to be disinfected or replaced before being used. Check with the manufacturer for details.

Boil Water Advisories in Canada -   Water Proof 3  

According to   WaterProof 3 , an Ecojustice report released in October 2011, on any given day, there are roughly 1,000 drinking water advisories in effect across Canada , including, but not limited to, boil-water alerts. These are warnings from public health authorities that tap water is unsafe to drink and may cause illness or transmit disease. About half of the drinking water advisories are for cities and towns. The other half of drinking water advisories are for places such as nursing homes, provincial parks, schools and summer camps.

While we know approximately how many drinking water advisories are issued on average, it is extraordinarily difficult to compile a comprehensive list of advisories because there is no central repository in Canada . There is no standard way of conveying warnings about drinking water safety, and the terminology and availability of information varies considerably between provinces, regions and even local health units.

Some provincial governments do not even publish boil-water advisories. Efforts in these jurisdictions may be limited to the discretionary efforts of local water suppliers (such as physical postings in local locations or ads in community newspapers) without any requirement for online publication. In other words, there is no attempt to make information available beyond local community members, putting visitors at risk. The lack of national standardized reporting makes it difficult to measure the current state of water at any point in time. It also makes it hard to track trends in water quality.

While transparency regarding water conditions in some provinces is poor, First Nations communities are in an even worse situation Too many of these communities live with the kind of sewage and water conditions seen in Third World countries.36 Unfortunately, status updates on problem areas are not available because Health Canada does not share that information in a meaningful form. Health Canada's website has a page where it lists how many First Nations communities across Canada are currently under a drinking water advisory, but fails to specify which communities are affected.( NOTE: Water.ca First Nations Advisories are based on an 2010 Access to Information (ATI) request, updated on Jan 14,2011) .

The situation in Canada is a stark contrast to American federal legislation that mandates each state produce and submit a report identifying the frequency and nature of violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act to the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA in turn produces a comprehensive national report that summarizes trends, draws conclusions and makes recommendations.  

Source Water Protection
Source water is raw water from streams, lakes or aquifers that supplies drinking water systems. Protecting the quality and quantity of source waters is a critical first step in a multi-barrier approach to achieving safe drinking water systems.

SWP is an essential step because some contaminants are not effectively removed by using standard treatment methods. It lessens treatment burdens and is thus often less expensive and more effective than treating contaminated water. Moreover, SWP is the only type of protection available to some consumers. Many rural residents drink untreated or minimally treated water, particularly groundwater from wells. SWP in these cases may be the only barrier in their drinking water systems. SWP may occur through a variety of legal instruments and policies addressing a wide range of human and natural threats to the quality and quantity of drinking water sources.

Most SWP approaches are relatively simple, commonsense plans to ensure that activities do not compromise water quality, or - if that is not possible - prohibit certain activities. Although SWP is primarily focused on the protection of human health, it has derivative benefits including reduced water treatment costs and improved environmental quality. -   Source: WaterProof 3

WaterProof 3 Provincial Report Card

Criteria: Source Water Protection (SWP) intitatives; Treatment testing; Online registry

Alberta efforts aimed specifically at SWP for drinking water lag behind other jurisdictions and more general water planning has not focused on source water.

Alberta has ranked well in Waterproof reports for strong treatment and testing provisions. Those efforts have remained at a consistent level while other jurisdictions continue to improve.

There is no online boil-water advisory registry that can be searched by location and/or collects and tabulates drinking water advisories.  

British Columbia
B.C. has fairly robust legislation for creating drinking water protection plan, but it has not resulted in actually approved plans. Over half the population has very strong SWP, but this is not a result of the current regulatory framework but is a result of decisions from late 19th and early 20th centuries.

B.C.'s legislation related to treatment, testing and contaminant standards is weaker than most other Canadian jurisdictions.

Each of B.C.'s Health Authorities keeps a registry of the boil-water advisories within its own jurisdiction. The Ministry of Health website does not list the advisories itself, but does contain a page that defines the various types of water advisories and has links to the different Health Authority websites  

Manitoba recently enacted a robust statutory scheme to create SWP plans. Plans are not, however, legally-binding but there may be requirements that plans be considered by other decision-makers.

Manitoba has significantly improved requirements for treatment and testing.

A list of boil-water advisories and drinking water avoidance advisories for public systems, semi-public systems, and area-wide private wells is available on the Government of Manitoba's Water Stewardship website.  

New Brunswick
New Brunswick has one of the longest track records for SWP. It has strong protections for source water that apply to a high percentage of water sources.

New Brunswick has improved standards for water treatment and testing.

The government's website contains a list of both the current and past boilwater and do-not-drink advisories.  

Newfounland Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador has a long-standing SWP program that covers a high percentage of groundwater sources.

Newfoundland and Labrador has improved water standards and testing requirements. The province has a testing program for some contaminants. Newfoundland and Labrador does not have an operator certification program.

Lists of current drinking water advisories for public water systems and a list of advisories lifted in the past 30 days are kept on the government's website.  

Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories is developing a model for SWP planning.

The Northwest Territories has improved water treatment standards but has not implemented an operator certification program.

A list of current and past drinking water advisories is available.  

Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia has a long-standing SWP program and has protected a large percentage of water sources that concomitantly protect the vast majority of the population.

Nova Scotia continues to have strong measures in place for drinking water treatment, standards and testing.

A list of drinking water advisories for public drinking water supplies is available on the government's website.  

Nunavut has not engaged in SWP planning.

Nunavut 's standards for basic disinfection are weaker than most Canadian jurisdiction.

There is no online boil-water advisory registry that may searched by location and / or collects and tabulates drinking water advisories.  


Ontario has the most well-funded and ambitious program to protect source water.

Ontario 's standards for water treatment, testing, standards and reporting are as strong as or stronger than other Canadian jurisdictions.

Boil-water advisories are issued by the individual Public Health Inspectors at each individual Public Health Office across the province and there is no online boil-water advisory registry.  

Prince Edward Island
PEI has a long-standing SWP program and has protected a large percentage of water sources that concomitantly protects a large percentage of the population.

PEI has improved standards related to treatment, testing and reporting.

There is no online boil-water advisory registry  

Quebec engages in some SWP planning efforts as do individual municipalities but efforts are not as advanced as other jurisdictions. Quebec is a leader in taking steps to protect water quality, including creating a governmental obligation to protect water for all residents and future generations.

Quebec 's standards for water treatment, testing, standards and reporting are very strong.

A list of boil-water and do-not-consume advisories, broken down by administrative region, is kept on the government's website.  

Saskatchewan has a robust SWP planning program, but final plans are not legally-binding.

A list of all precautionary drinking water advisories and emergency boil-water orders is kept on the government's Sask H20 website.  

Yukon engaged in some SWP efforts through passing general protection in regulation.

In 2006, Yukon had a number of proposed improvements to its drinking water regulatory scheme that were subsequently brought into force.

There is no online boil-water advisory registry  

The Federal Government has made little progress in improving water in First Nation's communities. Budget cuts for Environment Canada and other agencies will likely hinder water protection efforts.

The Federal Government has made little progress in improving water in First Nation's communities. Budget cuts for Environment Canada and other agencies will likely hinder water protection efforts.

Health Canada 's website has a page where it lists how many First Nations communities across Canada are currently under a drinking water advisory, but does not specify which communities are affected.  



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