Citywide boil water advisory catches Winnipeggers by surprise

The city-wide boil water advisory that was issued Tuesday night elicited a number of interesting reactions from Winnipeggers.

Hundreds clear store shelves of water supplies; restaurants stop serving water to customers

The city-wide boil water advisory that was issued Tuesday night elicited a number of interesting reactions from Winnipeggers. 1:36

The city-wide boil water advisory that was issued Tuesday night elicited a number of interesting reactions from Winnipeggers.

Many headed out and cleared store shelves of whatever water supplies they could.
Shoppers at this Sobeys in Winnipeg's Sage Creek area were snatching up bottled water Tuesday night after a boil-water advisory was issued for the entire city of Winnipeg. (Cameron MacIntosh/CBC)

“I got the last four,” said Kurt Armstrong, who said he felt “a little guilty” after managing to nab the last sources of water for sale at a local store.

Oliver Thomas and his fellow soccer players at the University of Winnipeg Health and RecPlex were budgeting their energy, hoping to not work up too much of a sweat. Water fountains there and in public areas across the city were shut down after the advisory was issued.

“There's no water in the bottle,” said Thomas. “And I usually bring water from home but they usually tell us not to, so I usually use the water fountain.”

The advisory also affected many business and restaurants.

Talia Syrie, owner of The Tallest Poppy, said the advisory meant her restaurant had to stop serving water to patrons.

“We took away everybody's drinking water and uh ... suggested they drink beer instead,” said Syrie. “We served a lot of Caesars, a lot of beer and Caesars, yeah. Hasn't been the worst thing.

“It would be unpleasant if it lasted for a few days … we have to serve coffee.”

The advisory also had an impact on Winnipeggers’ views of their municipal water system.

“They've recently made upgrades to the water filtration system I believe,” said Al Freynet. “I'm not sure where it went wrong.”

At a press conference around 6 p.m., Mayor Brian Bowman announced the city was extending the advisory to all of Winnipeg, after initial reports had limited the advisory range to the eastern part of Winnipeg.

“In an abundance of caution and because of our engineer's expertise in our water distribution system, the City of Winnipeg has decided to issue a proactive water boil advisory for the entire city,” said Bowman.

Kristin Pauls said she thought the city was doing a decent job of managing the problem.

“I feel the city is doing the best they can with the information they have, that they're trying to be safe rather than story,” said Pauls

And while many Winnipeggers did opt to stock up on store-bought water, others like Phil Baerg and Harry Paine chose to follow the advisory and simply boil water at home.

“I'm prepared to boil my water and not too worried about how to drink it,” said Baerg.

“We're Winnipeggers, tough, so we deal with it,” said the 81-year-old Paine.

The city said new water tests will be in by Wednesday afternoon. The boil water advisory is in effect at least until then, and the city will be updating the public at a press conference at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.


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