In response to a sewage discharge in the state of Maine, New Brunswick’s Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Department of Environment and Local Government have made a public advisory regarding water quality in the Saint John River.

“While this sewage discharge happened within the state of Maine, there is potential for short-term impacts to the Saint John River,” said Dr. Mariane Paquet, medical officer of health for the North Region. “Following notification from Maine, regional officials have conducted a risk assessment to determine which immediate areas were potentially impacted within New Brunswick.”

The Department of Health was notified on Tuesday that there was an unexpected discharge into the Fish River in Fort Kent, Maine, following a weather event.

The risk assessment considered the following:

  • information provided by Maine authorities;
  • nearby areas of publicly accessible beaches and recreational water use;
  • nearby areas of intake of drinking water and the types of treatment; and
  • flow and water volume of the river in the immediate area.

Actions taken include:

  • posting precautionary signs at the beach in Saint-Hilaire;
  • advising the Village of Baker Brook to take precautionary actions regarding drinking water intake; and
  • taking water samples at both locations.

These precautionary measures will be lifted once the Department of Health has been satisfied that the situation is resolved.

The department’s assessment determined that the risk associated with the sewage discharge is low in areas south of Edmundston.

To minimize the risk of illness when entering any body of water, the department advised residents:

  • do a scan before entering the water, and do not enter if you see a potential hazard;
  • do not swallow the water;
  • do not enter if you have open cuts or sores; and
  • rinse off with clean potable water after swimming.
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Cover image shows the Saint John River. Credit. WWF-Canada

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