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The Safe Drinking Water Act in Canada


    • In 2000, consumers in Walkerton drank water infected with E. Coli. According to Science Daily, seven people died and 2,300 people became seriously ill, exhibiting symptoms such as bloody diarrhea. As a result of this incident, commonly known as the Walkerton tragedy, the Canadian government tightened standards for regulation of drinking water.

    Act Explained

    • The 2002 Safe Drinking Water Act requires that all facilities providing drinking water must install treatment equipment that will remove contaminants from the water. If a facility already has equipment deemed equivalent to that which is required by the Act, the facility does not have to purchase or install new equipment.


    • The Safe Drinking Water Act is prohibitively expensive for small businesses, such as hotels or resorts, according to an editorial in the Ottawa Citizen. Businesses are required to hire an engineer to oversee the treatment process as well as install the equipment. This can cost the business $20,000 to $30,000.

    Controversy Over Safe Drinking Act

    • Due to the high price of the new regulations, several small businesses refused to comply with the Act in 2006. Business owners stated that the high price coupled with the fact that they already routinely tested and treated drinking water to remove contamination caused them to refuse to comply.

    Decentralization of Regulation

    • states that in Canada, the Safe Drinking Water Act is decentralized, meaning that provinces can set their own standards. This differs from America, in which such regulations are usually enacted at the federal level.

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