The city’s first public health experiment is now rolling out across the city.
The program will test more than 300 homes for the presence of harmful bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella, in order to see whether it’s possible to use the city’s water treatment plants to treat those contaminants.
More than 50 residents have already signed up for the testing.
City water officials say they’re not expecting to see an increase in bacteria from the testing, but are hoping to test 100 homes and see if they show a decrease in bacteria.
“The goal is to identify those that have not been tested and test them to make sure they are the ones that have a high risk of bacterial transmission,” said Scott Lantz, a spokesperson for the city, who said the city is working with the water industry to identify potential bottlenecks.
Toronto Water says it is now testing more than 1,300 homes, and the program is expected to run until mid-November.
Officials hope that testing will help to prevent outbreaks like the one in Vancouver that affected tens of thousands of people.
It’s not yet clear if the tests will be mandatory, but the city says the results will be made public on Tuesday.
One of the most immediate effects of the tests could be a reduction in the amount of disinfectant used in the city and the likelihood that homes will be more likely to be cleaned.
Water disinfection is not always easy, and many people are reluctant to use it.
A survey of 3,200 Toronto residents conducted by the University of Toronto showed that the overwhelming majority said they would not be willing to use a product that was “unsafe,” but the average was slightly higher than that.
But Lantz said it’s not just the numbers that could make a difference.
He said the public health community needs to look at how people are responding to the tests.
People have been telling us that they want to use disinfectants because they want the best for their homes, but they’re also saying, ‘I’m going to be a little bit less likely to use them and use them with the best of intentions, and that’s what this is really about.’
He added that the city can’t control the environment, but it can control the people who are responsible for it.