Julie Towers spoke to reporters in Halifax on Friday afternoon. The investigation began after a person went to the hospital and two dogs died on Wednesday.
An alert was issued early Thursday morning warning all residents who take water directly from Grand Lake to immediately stop using the water.
Residents near Grand Lake who do not receive water from a municipal utility are advised not to consume their water, nor to use it for cooking, bathing, swimming or boating, unless otherwise specified.
Rapid negative test for blue-green algae
The ministry said the advisory includes any person which has a well drilled or dug shallow, less than 30 meters deep and less than 60 meters from the lake.
Towers said Environment Department staff performed rapid tests that came back negative for blue-green algae.
She noted that the results were not surprising given that it is “difficult to detect” due to the changing weather conditions on the lake over the past few days.
Towers said a photograph taken by first responders showed the characteristic vibrant color of blue-green algae blooms. Other parts of the lake are being tested.
“Until we get the results, we want people to be careful. The notice is therefore in place. No contact with water, please, ”Towers said.
The deputy minister said test results for pesticides and other chemical contaminations could come back by Monday or Tuesday.
She said she was working with affected municipalities to ensure that area residents do not use water from the Grand Lake or the Fish Lake, which is connected to it.
Towers cautioned residents with home water treatments that these systems cannot treat for things like the toxins associated with blue-green algae.
She said with climate change creating warmer conditions, it is likely that Nova Scotia will have “more flowers in more locations” in the future.
Tap water is safe in Halifax, East Hants
Halifax Water and the Regional Municipality of East Hants both confirmed Thursday morning that their water systems were not affected by the advisory after the emergency alert caused some confusion among customers.
In a statement, Halifax Water said its tap water remains safe because it does not draw from Grand Lake.
“There is no effect on Halifax Water customers… their tap water is perfectly safe to drink,” said James Campbell, spokesperson for Halifax Water.
The utility operates three water supply systems in the same watershed as Grand Lake, including Bomont, Collins Park, and Bennery Lake, but none of these systems draw water from Grand Lake.
The Regional Municipality of East Hants also issued a statement saying there is no known risk to its utility customers, despite being dependent on the Grand Lake watershed.
“We know it’s just widespread in Grand Lake right now, so it’s the immediate users of the lake itself who need to do additional due diligence at this time,” said Jesse Hulsman of the Municipality of ‘East Hants on CBC Radio. Information morning Thursday.
On Thursday evening, the municipality announced that it will provide free drinking water to residents who cannot use their water because of the notice.
Residents should bring their own containers and follow public health protocols, including wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing. Water is distributed at the East Hants Aquatic Center on Friday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to noon and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Residents must bring their own water containers.