North Battleford water inquiry wraps

The inquiry into the cryptosporidium outbreak in North Battleford has ended.

The judicial inquiry into what went wrong with the water supply in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, has heard final arguments.

More than 7,000 people fell ill last year when the town's water supply became tainted with the cryptosporidium bacterium. The outbreak was traced to the city's water treatment plant.

The official inquiry into the water crisis is now wrapped up and, until the end, the city stuck to its original position that there is no proof water is to blame for thousands of people getting sick last spring.

Ted Priel, the lawyer for North Battleford, said the city doesn't fully accept that the illnesses were caused by a failure at the water treatment plant. Priel said, "It is far more probable that this parasite entered the system before March 20."

Priel also told the inquiry that if there was a problem, then the problem was with the provincial government. "Should we be criticized for producing water that meets the regulations and meets the objectives when we are told by the regulator safe water can be demonstrated if you do meet our objectives and regulations?" he said.

The inquiry heard from more than 30 witnesses and received more than 100 exhibits.

No one died as a direct result of the cryptosporidium outbreak but it's estimated up to 7,000 people were infected. Many of those people are hoping the pressure of a public inquiry will cause all levels of government to make necessary changes to ensure North Battleford and other communities in Saskatchewan can again trust their drinking water.

A final report on the water crisis will be delivered in March.