People in La Tuque, Que., fill tubs, stockpile bottled water as town turns off taps for 48 hours

The municipality will shut off water to 5,000 homes and businesses for two days beginning at midnight for critical repairs to its water main system.

Shutdown begins at midnight, allowing municipality to replace obsolete water main

Karine Hémond and Gaétan Pouliot have stocked up on drinking water for their family of seven, in preparation for two days without tap water while La Tuque completes the replacement of its obsolete water main. (Camille Carpentier\Radio-Canada)

The municipality of La Tuque, Que., will shut off water to 5,000 homes and businesses for two days, beginning at midnight, for critical repairs to its water main system.

People in the town of 8,000 in the upper Mauricie region are being told to set aside at least four litres of drinkable water per person per day for drinking and cooking and to reserve another five to 12 litres of non-potable water in order to wash clothes, manually flush toilets or perform household chores.

The shutdown is necessary because the municipality is replacing a section of its antiquated water main near the source of La Tuque's water supply.

The original water main is made of wooden slats held together by metal rings "like a wooden barrel," said communications director Hélène Langlais.

"Slowly, we have replaced each section, and we have ended up at the last section we need to change near Lake Wayagamac," she said.

Backyard pools filled in case of fire

Some restaurants and hair salons have chosen to close for two days rather than try to continue operating without running water.

The owner of Rotisserie O Coq d'or has decided to soldier on, however.

"We bought jugs of water in order to cook food so it will change nothing for me here," said Jean-Paul Doucet.

The English-language La Tuque High School has been collecting rainwater in rain barrels for the past week, so staff and students will be able to wash their hands and keep the toilets flushing.
The municipality of La Tuque is placing portable toilets around town as it gets ready to shut off the water supply for the majority of its citizens for two days. (Radio-Canada)

The municipality is installing 127 portable toilets around the town and has brought in five cistern trucks filled with water to be used in case of emergencies, such as a fire.

Residents were also asked to fill up their swimming pools in advance, so that fire crews could pump water from them if needed.

The hospital in La Tuque has its own water supply and will not be affected.

'Like 2 days of camping'

Mayor Pierre-David Tremblay said citizens are used to dealing with breakdowns in their water system, although he expects them to become less frequent after the repairs are completed.

"It's like two days of camping," he said of the shutdown.

Once the tap water is flowing again, people will nonetheless have to boil their water for five minutes before drinking it, until further notice.

With files from Claudie Simard, Radio-Canada