INDEPTH: INSIDE WALKERTON
Key figures in Walkerton's water crisis
CBC News Online | January 2002
is the former manager of Walkerton's Public Utilities Commission. He's
been at the centre of this controversy. The local medical officer of health, Dr. Murray McQuigge says he was assured by Koebel on several occasions that the town's water supply
was safe - despite suspicions by health officials. McQuigge has
said the PUC's slow response wasted time as medical officials continued
to look for food sources for the outbreak of E-coli. Several of
Koebel's friends have come to his defence, saying he would never
knowingly put anybody at risk.
Ontario Environment Minister at the time of the crisis, Dan Newman dismissed the idea that his government's policy of shifting functions to municipalities played a role in the disaster.
He says the downloading of responsibilities didn't apply in this
case since the municipality had always run the water treatment facility
of Health for the region at the time of the crisis, Dr. Murray McQuigge first heard of
the possible outbreak from Dr. Hallett and immediately called Walkerton's
Public Utilities Commission, PUC. They told him their water supply
was safe. Afterward, McQuigge said the outbreak should never have happened.
He says the PUC knew their water was contaminated May 18, but failed
to act until it was too late.
Chair of Walkerton's
PUC, Jim Kieffer says he didn't know anything about the contaminated
water until Sunday May 21 2000, four days after the town's utility workers
received a fax from a private testing lab informing them of a problem
with the water. He said the workers who received the fax were unaware
of E. coli's deadly potential and therefore didn't report the fax
to their supervisors.
is Mayor of the Municipality of Brockton, which includes
the town of Walkerton. He says he wasn't aware of the problems the
PUC was having with its chlorination system, or of the warning the
commission received about the safety of the water, until it was
too late to prevent the epidemic.
based in Owen Sound, Dr. Hallett saw some of the first patients
affected by the E. coli outbreak in Walkerton. An 11 year-old
boy was referred to the Owen Sound hospital May 18. He had severe
stomach cramps and then bloody diarrhea. Hallett immediately thought
of E. coli, but thought the source might have been bad food. She
called Dr. Murray McQuigge, Medical Officer of Health on May 19 2000,
to sound the alarm.