Hull residents, businesses brace for lengthy boil-water advisory

Some 70,000 residents of Gatineau's Hull sector are preparing themselves for a five-day boil water advisory beginning Oct. 20 as the city upgrades its water treatment system.

Preventative measure is part of a water treatment system upgrade

Restaurants in Hull will have to boil water for cooking food and supply bottled water to customers during a planned five-day boil-water advisory that gets underway Oct. 20. (Radio Canada)

Some 70,000 residents of Gatineau's Hull sector are bracing for a five-day boil water advisory beginning Oct. 20 as the city upgrades its water treatment system.

"The whole project is to be able to have better working equipment," said Gatineau city project manager Audrey Tellier.

"The water plant was built in 1976, and since then there's a lot of equipment that we need to change gradually to be up to date and have the best water we can."

Audrey Tellier, project manager for the City of Gatineau, says the boil-water advisory is necessary so that crews can connect a new water main to the water treatment plant in Hull. (Amanda Pfeffer/CBC)

Tellier said the water treatment facility on boulevard de Lucerne, one of four serving the Gatineau region, has been undergoing a $68-million modernization that began more than a year ago.

It should be completed in the summer of 2019. But for some residents, the five-day advisory — during which the new water main pipe will be connected to the treatment plant — will be the first sign the project is underway.

For some Hull residents, the planned boil-water advisory may be the first they hear about the $68-million upgrade to the water treatment plant. (CBC)

Almost all Hull sector residents will have to boil drinking water or water used for cooking until the work is done. 

The regional health agency, the Centre intégré de santé et des services sociaux de l'Outaouais ​(CISSS de l'Outaouais), is responsible for hundreds of patients and workers at facilities like the Hull Hospital and long-term care facilities.

CISSS de l'Outaouais spokesperson Geneviève Côté said they're prepared for a 48 hour boil-water emergency, and the agency is making calls now to ensure its suppliers can provide enough water for the whole five days.

Geneviève Côté, a spokesperson CISSS de l'Outaouais, says the health agency will have to secure enough water for hundreds of workers and patients at their facilities across the Hull sector, including at the Hull Hospital. (Radio-Canada)

It's not clear yet whether the thousands of federal public servants in the sector will be asked to stay home during the advisory, however, and for some restaurants in the area, that's more worrisome than the need to boil water.

"Lunch time is our biggest crowd, so that will be a challenge," said Alexandre Le Blanc, who manages both Café-Bar Aux 4 Jeudis as well as Restaurant Piz'za-za.

Alexandre Le Blanc manages both Café-Bar Aux 4 Jeudis as well as Restaurant Piz'za-za. He says he's mostly concerned that the boil-water advisory could mean thousands of federal public servants will be asked to stay home. (Radio-Canada)

He said his restaurants will boil their cooking water the evening before and will provide water bottles to customers. 

A citizens group called l'Association des Résidants de l'Ile de Hull (ARIH) is warning members on its social media page about the advisory. 

President Daniel Cayley-Daoust said he appreciates the heads-up from the city, adding most residents understand the work had to be done.  

Some 70,000 people in the Hull sector will be affected by the boil-water advisory that begins Oct. 20 and lasts for at least five days. (City of Gatineau)

City of Gatineau officials are telling people to boil their water for one minute before consuming, and that water may have a yellow or brownish colour.

In some areas, people may lose water pressure, the city said.

When work gets underway, drinking water will be supplied by a bypass line, which is why the city is also asking residents to conserve water during the five days.

Residents in the Plateau district will not be affected as they will get water from the Aylmer plant instead.

The water treatment plant in Hull has been undergoing a $68-million upgrade since 2017. The work should be finished by 2019. (CBC)