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After Walkerton, is Canada’s drinking water safer?

The Story

Less than two years after the Walkerton tragedy, more than 1,000 boil-water advisories are active across Canada -- and for good reason. Dangerous pollutants continue to contaminate the water. For example, the pathogen cryptosporidium has seeped into the drinking water in North Battleford, Sask. The industrial chemical Trichloroethylene has crept into the water wells in Beckwith, Ont. And in Liberty, Sask., the hazardous chemical trihalomethanes has seeped into the water system. "Walkertons, North Battlefords are happening as we speak because we simply don't know the extent and the quality of the water that a lot of people are drinking," says Dr. Hans Peters of the Safe Drinking Water Foundation in this CBC report. 

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Jan. 18, 2002
Guests: Rob Patterson, Hans Peterson, Dave Wilson
Host: Alison Smith
Reporter: Kelly Crowe
Duration: 4:20

Did You know?

• According to Health Canada, the average adult drinks 1.5 litres of water every day. This sum includes water used when preparing hot and cold beverages including juice, coffee and tea.

• The average Canadian used a total of 343 litres inside the home in 1998 according to Environment Canada.

• Each year 3 to 4 million people around the world die of water-borne diseases. Of that total, 2 million are children who die of diarrhea. (Environment Canada)

• Brazil has the access to the most renewable fresh water in the world; Russia is second and Canada is third. Close to 9 per cent, or 891,163 square kilometres, of Canada's total area is covered by fresh water. (Environment Canada)

• Health problems related to water pollution in general cost Canadians roughly $300 million per year. (Environment Canada)

• In December 2004, the Globe and Mail reported that 500 people in Walkerton continue to suffer with chronic diarrhea and 100 people have been diagnosed with permanent kidney damage.


Death on Tap: The Poisoning of Walkerton more