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One of the obvious risk for municipalities is the possibility of a class-action, should municipal drinking water quality be compromised. This risk was almost realized by the City of Ste-Adele, after two raccoons and one bird were found in a 40-year-old, 125,000 L, chlorinated municipal reservoir.  A boil water advisory was briefly imposed. One of the local residents, Marie-France Cyr, claimed that she was traumatized, and would never again be able to drink or use municipal water. She launched a class-action.

Fortunately for the City, certification was refused. Ms. Cyr offered no credible evidence that her psychological trauma was actually caused by the little corpses, much less that this was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the incident. She offered no proof that the three dead bodies could adversely affect the quality of the water in such a large, chlorinated reservoir, nor of general psychological trauma among other residents in the area. The court did not even need to rely upon evidence from the town that water from the reservoir would not actually have reached her house.

So the story ended well for Ste-Adele, except for its time, trouble and legal bills. But it illustrates how little it could take for a municipal drinking water problem to trigger a class action.

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