Eves pledges to implement Walkerton recommendations

Ontario premier promises to implement all 93 recommendations of the Walkerton inquiry

Ontario's premier has promised to act on all 93 recommendations in a report on the Walkerton water tragedy.

But Ernie Eves says the government won't make all the changes right away.

"Obviously some of them can be implemented more quickly than others," he said Friday during a visit to Bolton, Ont., near Toronto.

Seven people died and 2,300 others became ill in May, 2000, after E. coli got into the water system in Walkerton, Ont.

Associate Chief Justice Dennis O'Connor headed an inquiry into the tragedy and released the second part of his findings on Thursday.

The recommendations include a legal guarantee of safe drinking water, protection plans for drinking water sources and control over farming activities to prevent pollution of water sources.

The report says the one-time cost of implementing the recommendations could range from $99 million to $280 million.

Eves suggested that the money will come directly from increased water bills.

"We as Canadians can no longer take for granted clean and safe water," Eves said, "and we're going to have to be prepared to contribute something per household out of our own pockets." Eves admitted the province should share some of the blame for what happened in Walkerton.

He says there weren't enough safeguards in place to protect the purity of the water.