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Québec, June 4, 2001 - The Minister of the Environment, André Boisclair, announced that priority would be given to waterworks that draw from surface waters which must absolutely be filtered and disinfected under the new Regulation respecting the quality of drinking water.

"The government intends to focus first on systems that need to comply rapidly with the new requirements on surface water filtration and disinfection. The majority of Québec's major cities," Minister Boisclair explained, "filter and disinfect surface waters before distribution and thereby already meet the new standards."

Following the example of the United States and Ontario, the new Québec Regulation requires of owners of distribution systems that they perform minimal treatments if the water comes in whole or in part from a source affected directly by surface water. In Québec, some 300 municipal systems draw water from the St. Lawrence, rivers, lakes or sources without filtering it prior to distribution.

Filtration enables, among other things, the elimination of turbidity as well as Giardia and Cryptosporidium parasites, contaminants present in all surface waters but generally not found in groundwater. Bacteria, viruses and parasites are responsible for gastro-enteritis, with a third of all cases in Québec apparently occurring as a result of water ingestion, according to the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux.

The municipalities and private systems targeted by compulsory filtration will be required within three months of the coming into force of the Regulation to submit a letter of intention to the Minister for the implementation of new equipment. The timeframe granted for the implementation of this equipment is of one year; however, where extensive work is needed, the timeframe can be extended by the Minister subject to stricter provisional controls from the operator. Priority will be given to systems whose microbiological quality has deteriorated and to those that serve a large number of persons.

"The Ministère de l'Environnement is busy completing an inventory of all systems that draw from surface waters in order to ensure they are all in a position to systematically filter and disinfect their water prior to distribution within a year," Minister Boisclair concluded.

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Sylvia Provost
Attachée de presse
Cabinet du ministre
Tél. : (418) 521-3911

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