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Marla Newhook: Les Cèdres still deals with drinking water problems months after ban

I’m willing to bet the dépan-neurs, grocery stores and gas stations in Les Cèdres have been making a killing on the sale of bottled water in the past few months considering the more than 6,000 residents have been following a boil water advisory since June.

Claude Bussières, a resident of Les Cèdres for the past 14 years, has been hauling 60 litres of bottled water a week into his home since the advisory was issued on June 4.

I know it may not sound like a lot, but when you’re already paying taxes, well ….

It’s one thing when there’s a water main break or a breakdown in equipment at the water treatment plant, but both residents and municipal officials seem to be in the dark as to why the advisory hasn’t been lifted.

According to his discussions with the municipality, Bussières is being told that there is a discrepancy between how the city tests the water quality versus the government’s methods.

Every two weeks, the residents receive an update that the boil water advisory is still in place but there’s no explanation as to why.

According to the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks website, a boil water advisory is issued when the water quality standards no longer meet regulations.

The water quality list of criteria includes 300 different contaminants that are tested.

Bussières says a municipal official has told him that the water is okay to drink, according to their standards, while he continues to receive the ministry boil water advisory every two weeks.

Frankly, he says he’ll continue buying bottled water until he receives confirmation from the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks that the advisory has been lifted.

According to a CJAD interview with Les Cèdres Mayor Geraldine Quesnel, the municipality has no money to help residents pay for bottled water, nor does she know what the problem is exactly.

In the same interview, Jennifer Forrester, another Les Cèdres resident, has expressed frustration of being left in the dark.

I’m not sure how this lack of action would fly in other Montreal communities, but I’m willing to bet that there is a growing frustration and impatience with the situation in Les Cèdres.

Frankly, I’m surprised residents haven’t already marched en masse to their municipal office demanding answers.

And rightly so, how would you like to pay full taxes and get partial service?

No one wants to think about contaminated food or water but we’re reminded of it every time there is a food recall (the XL Foods beef recall comes to mind) or water advisories such as this.

Even swimming in public beaches can be a hazard if the conditions are right (or wrong, as the case may be).

A little information goes a long way in assuring residents that actions are being taken to solve the problem.

Marla Newhook is a journalist and mother of two. She works part-time at West Island Citizen Advocacy as the publicity representative. She is a resident of Pincourt.

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