Canada

One year later Walkerton residents still worried about water

It was one year ago this weekend the people of Walkerton, Ont. were told not to drink their tap water. A deadly strain of E. coli had contaminated the town water supply.

But the warning came too late. Seven people died and 2,300 got sick.

One year later, Walkerton's water has been declared safe again. But many refuse to drink it.

Shirley Anne Lair says she and her two daughters didn't get sick last May. But, she's still haunted.

"Hearing the helicopters constantly going to the hospital ... and all you could think about is who you knew this time that was going to (hospital in) London. That was hard because we knew most of those little kids."

Like many, Shirley Anne Lair won't be marking the anniversary of the water crisis. Town officials are holding no formal events. But community activist Bruce Davidson is organizing an environmental fair and a memorial service for this weekend.

Davidson says Walkerton's water problems should have been a wake-up call for all of Canada. "We cannot continue down this road. Walkerton was not a one time deal. That if we don't stop and take a serious look at our policies and procedures and priorities, because priorities is really what it comes down to, that we're going to repeat similar events," he said.

Davidson says the recent cryptosporidium outbreak in North Battleford Saskatchewan is an insult. A sign, he says, that some Canadians haven't learned from Walkerton and remain complacent about protecting their drinking water.

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