Spatial assessment of the risk of consumption of contaminated (drinking) water during floods

This project will allow the development of a territorial decision support tool that can eventually be applied to the entire Quebec territory. It will also contribute to increasing the protection and resilience of communities.

Project details
Scientific program
2020-2025 programming
Theme(s) and priority(s)
Extreme Events
Start and duration
June 2022 • 2 years
Project Status
In progress
Linked project
Support for INFO-Crue
Principal(s) investigator(s)
Geneviève Bordeleau
Roxane Lavoie
Université Laval
Karem Chokmani
Hachem Agili


Quebec has experienced repeated record flooding in recent years. However, in addition to property damage and psychological impacts, it is possible that flooding poses a significant health risk in areas where the following three criteria are encountered:

  1. The source of drinking water is underground but located near a watercourse

  2. The watercourse is already contaminated, or contaminants on the soil surface may be solubilized when the watercourse bursts its banks

  3.  During floods, surface water seeps into the catchment, either directly from the surface or indirectly via the groundwater that feeds it.

Although the construction standards for drinking water catchments in Quebec aim to protect water quality, several factors (physical and human) can increase the risk of water contamination locally, as well as the consumption of this water without adequate prior treatment. This intersectoral project therefore aims to spatially estimate, for the first time, the risks of:

  1. Contamination of drinking water sources

  2. Consumption of contaminated water during and after floods



The ultimate aim of this project will be to develop a local decision-making tool that could eventually be applied all over Quebec, and contribute to increasing the protection and resilience of communities through better management of drinking water intakes that are vulnerable in the event of flooding.

This project is part of the INFO-Crue initiative set up by the MELCCFP and one of the research axes of the Réseau Inondations interSectoriel du Québec. 



The planned methodology can be divided into four components:

  1. Collection of existing information

  2. Validation of data in the field

  3. Interviews with participants, and

  4. Development of the methodology and creation of the tool

In this project, the tool will be developed using three restricted study areas, each representing a watercourse at significant risk of flooding. The final selection of the three zones will be made with stakeholders, with a view to co-construction, and in such a way as to cover the different social, geographical and water supply contexts representative of Quebec.

Expected results

  • Literature review on water quality

  • Field data validation and sampling

  • Completion of twenty semi-structured interviews and collaborative workshops to identify representations, concerns and solutions

  • Production of a public database

  • Generation of vulnerability maps and integration into a spatial modelling tool (E-Nundation)


Benefits for adaptation

Benefits for adaptation

Advancement of the knowledge of the risk posed by flooding to groundwater quality and public health

Spatialization of data to identify priority locations that are more at risk of contamination

Demonstration of the performance of a dynamic and interactive representation of this new knowledge


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