FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health is not recommending extra water testing or other types of assessments in response to the extensive flooding of New Brunswick’s river system.

“We have been working with the Department of Environment and Local Government and we are confident that the quality of river water will return to normal,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “Due to extensive flushing, the risk associated with flood water contamination in the St. John River system has since dissipated.”

The flushing of the river system will result in the dilution and dissipation of sewage or chemical discharges.

“It is important to understand that there are normally some levels of contaminants and bacteria present in any waterway,” said Russell. “There are simple precautions that can be taken every day to protect oneself from potential risks associated with recreational water use, including not swallowing the water whenever possible, not exposing open cuts, wounds, or sores to the water, and washing your hands and/or using available shower facilities to rinse off after being in the water.”

For people participating in recreational fishing, standard food safety practices for handling fish should also be applied to fish caught in areas where major flooding has occurred. As a general rule, fish should be well rinsed with clean drinking water and then cooked prior to consuming.

Testing of recreational swimming areas is also not being recommended as there would have been significant flushing of any given location before testing could be completed.

It is recommended that floodwater areas be used with caution or avoided until they have been cleaned up or for about a week after the floodwater has cleared completely. Over this time sunlight and soil will help destroy harmful bacteria and any excess risk to health should disappear.

The province will continue regular recreational water sampling at specific beaches and has water monitoring planned for provincial parks.