Water Quality Notifications

B.C.’s regional health authorities administer the Drinking Water Protection Act and provide surveillance and monitoring of drinking water systems.

They are also responsible for issuing notifications about drinking water quality. These are there notification levels, ranging from the least to most serious:

  1. Water quality advisory
  2. Boil water notice
  3. Do not use water notice

Note: Health authorities differ in whether they call such notifications “advisory,” “notice” or “notification.”

Drinking water officers require suppliers to notify or advise their customers to boil their drinking water or take other precautions to safeguard themselves, based on a number of factors. Triggers for public advisories can include:

  • The presence of indicator bacteria, such as fecal coliform or E. coli in water samples.
  • Treatment failure.
  • Water main breaks.
  • Discovery of cross connections.
  • Reports of reservoir contamination.
  • Observation of water-borne disease in the community.
  • The drinking water officer advises the water supplier when he/she is satisfied (through testing or other safeguards) that the water is safe to drink without boiling it. The water supplier must inform all users when the advisory is lifted.

A change in water quality – such as taste, odour or cloudiness – could indicate a problem. Notify your water supplier and the drinking water officer/contact at your health authority about any changes in your drinking water quality.

Current Notices & Advisories

View a list of all current notices and advisories in your health authority.

Public Notification Levels and their Definitions

Water Quality Advisory

A water quality advisory is the lowest-level notification. A water quality advisory is used in situations where the public health threat is modest, and actions can be taken to reduce the risks by ways other than requiring a boil water notice or do not use water notice.

Boil Water Notice

A boil water notice is used in situations where the public health threat is significant and the nature of the threat is one that can be effectively addressed by boiling the water.

Water supply systems may remain on a boil water advisory for an extended period of time due to a substantial concern about the system’s treatment equipment or distribution infrastructure. Infrastructure changes are usually quite costly and require lengthy planning before they can become operational.

If you have a home filter system, you may still need to boil your water, depending on the particular circumstances of your water supply. Consult with your drinking water officer/contact for guidance.

Do Not Use Water Notice

A do not use water notice is the highest-level notification. It is used in situations where a significant public health threat exists and the threat cannot be adequately addressed through a water quality advisory or boil water notice.