Officials in New Brunswick are warning residents to limit contact with floodwater because it could contain sewage from overflowing systems as well as agricultural and industrial waste.
Water levels in parts of the province are receding, and the warning has been issued to those returning to their flooded properties.
According to the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization (NBEMO), the water could pose health risks, including sickness and infections.
Specifically, people are warned not to put contaminated hands near their mouths or consume contaminated food.
“As the floodwaters begin to slowly recede and people begin to return to their homes, we need residents to be mindful of their health and make it a priority,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, in a news release.
“Always wash hands with soap and clean water after cleanup activities or after handling articles contaminated by floodwater, even if you were wearing gloves. If soap and water are not available for hand washing, use a hand sanitizer.”
It’s also advised not to let children play in floodwater areas and to keep pets out of the water to prevent them from tracking bacteria.
NBEMO says floodwaters can also overwhelm sewage systems, which could lead to sewage backing up into homes and businesses.
“People with wells that were impacted by floodwaters should not use their well water,” the news release notes.
“If well water has a persistent odour or discolouration or if residents believe it has been affected by chemicals such as furnace oil, gasoline or agricultural chemicals, it should not be used for any purpose, even if it has been boiled.”
The province notes that if floodwater has receded from a well and there are no signs of chemical contamination, well water should be boiled for one minute before consumption until water tests are returned.
“Residents concerned about the safety of their well water should contact the nearest regional office of the Department of Environment and Local Government for further information,” the province notes.
WATCH: Global News coverage of New Brunswick’s flooding
Meanwhile, officials say high water levels in southern New Brunswick are not forecast to decline significantly until later this week.
NBEMO predicts the Saint John River will fall below flood stage by Thursday in Fredericton and by Friday in Maugerville.
But it says levels in Saint John will only be back to flood level by Saturday.