Page 2: Guidance for Issuing and Rescinding Drinking Water Avoidance Advisories in Emergency Situations - Background
The main role of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water is the development of the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. This role has evolved over the years, and new methodologies and approaches have led the Committee to develop a new type of document, Guidance documents, to provide advice and guidance on issues related to drinking water quality for parameters that do not require a formal Guideline for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.
There are two instances when the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water may choose to develop guidance documents. The first would be to provide operational or management guidance related to specific drinking water related issues (such as boil water advisories), in which case the documents would provide only limited scientific information or health risk assessment.
The second instance would be to make risk assessment information available when a guideline is not deemed necessary. The Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water establishes the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality specifically for contaminants that meet all of the following criteria:
- exposure to the contaminant could lead to adverse health effects;
- the contaminant is frequently detected or could be expected to be found in a large number of drinking water supplies throughout Canada; and
- the contaminant is detected, or could be expected to be detected, at a level that is of possible health significance.
If a contaminant of interest does not meet all these criteria, the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water may choose not to establish a numerical guideline or develop a Guideline Technical Document. In that case, a guidance document may be developed.
Guidance documents undergo a similar process as Guideline Technical Documents, including public consultations through the Health Canada Web site. They are offered as information for drinking water authorities, and in some cases to help provide guidance in spill or other emergency situations.
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