CBC In Depth
Walkerton report highlights
CBC News Online | May 2002 Updated Oct. 29, 2002

The report in brief:
  • Part 1, January 2002
  • Part 2, May 2002
    Part Two of the Walkerton Inquiry, released on May 23, 2002, recommends that the Ontario government spend up to $280 million on water safety and that it implement a safe drinking water act.

    The report, delivered to the attorney general, also recommends that the government establish a special agency within the Environment Ministry to deal with water safety.

    From part two of the report
    issued May, 2002:

    Planning and Standards
    • The provincial government should continue to be responsible for water protection in Ontario.
    • Drinking water standards should be high enough that a person would feel safe drinking the water. The public should be allowed to participate in setting drinking water quality guidelines.
    • Plans should be developed and required to protect watershed drinking water sources in Ontario. Source protection plans should be enforced, approved and reviewed by the Ministry of the Environment, be prepared with local consultation and be managed by conservation authorities.
    • Provincial or municipal government decisions that may affect the quality of drinking water must be in agreement with the source protection plans. The provincial government should provide the right to appeal the source protection plans and to challenge any government action thought to be against those plans. Conservation authorities should educate the public on the importance of source protection.
    • The federal government should adopt standards as good as, or better than, the standards for Ontario's small water systems across reserves, military bases, national parks and any other federal land in Ontario.
    • The Ministry of the Environment should initiate a drinking water quality management standard for Ontario, in order to accredit all drinking water producers in Ontario. They must also have operational plans drafted for the water systems to be approved by the ministry. The ministry will work with Emergency Measures Ontario to establish an emergency response plan for all water systems in the province.
    Runoff and Other Contamination
    • The Ministry of the Environment should not allow the spreading of waste materials that is not within source protection guidelines. Also, the ministry should take responsibility for the regulation of farm activities and their impact on water supplies.
    • A farm that is large, intensive, or deemed to be at "high-risk" under the source protection plan should develop its own binding water protection plan, and municipalities cannot require them to meet higher requirements than those outlined in the existing plan. The Ministry of the Environment should work with other ministries and agricultural groups to develop these plans. A system of cost-sharing should be set up as an incentive.
    • Guidelines should be in place to ensure the safety of any materials coming in contact with drinking water, such as pipes and storage tanks.
    Monitoring and Staff
    • All water should be continuously monitored, with alarms and automatic shut-off systems if something goes wrong. All municipal providers should have an adequate sampling plan and samples should be taken at vulnerable times, such as after a flood or heavy rainfall. All testing should be done at laboratories accredited by the Ministry of the Environment.
    • Municipalities should review the management and operating structures of their water systems and uphold standards for their employees in the water care sector. They must submit a financial plan to the province in exchange for an operating licence. The Ontario Clean Water Agency and the provincial government should continue to be a support for the cities.
    • Training courses for all water systems operators should be required and accessible. The provincial government and the Ministry of the Environment should develop a comprehensive "source to tap" drinking water policy, covering every step of production. Also, the government should develop a Safe Drinking Water Act to encompass the treatment and distribution stage, and it should amend the Environmental Protection Act to cover these standards.
    • All owners of water systems should hold the appropriate documentation in order to obtain an owner's licence. The provincial government should create an office of chief inspector - drinking water systems, who should also hold this accreditation. The public can use this new officer to investigate suspected infractions. Emergency response measures should be established throughout communities in order to deal with infectious disease outbreaks. The province should fund all programs related to the safety of drinking water.
    • In setting drinking water standards in Ontario, the Ministry of the Environment should report to the Advisory Council on Standards which should consider replacing the total coliform test with the E. coli test. The council should also review all disinfection products used in drinking water.
    Public Information
    • The Ministry of the Environment should establish electronic access to information about drinking water and individual water systems in Ontario.
    • The Drinking Water Branch of the ministry should table a "State of the Drinking Water" report to be presented to the legislature.
    First Nations
    • All programs should be made available to First Nations peoples on or off reserves, at a cost-recovery basis, if necessary. The government supports collaboration between several communities in this effort.


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