The 2000 Walkerton contamination remains one of the largest and best-known instances of drinking water contamination in Canadian history. In its aftermath, provinces and territories around the country worked to implement or update drinking water policy and legislation, attempting to prevent further contamination events. Today, though Canada has not seen another biological contamination of a similar scale, Canada’s water supply continues to face new challenges from a variety of sources. From the Mount Polley dam collapse in British Columbia to the recent oil spill in the North Saskatchewan River, Canadian water suppliers have had to respond to a multitude of threats to their water’s security. New threats, like climate change and cyber terrorism have also emerged, making proactive approaches to water security all the more important.
The goal of this study is to improve our understanding of threats facing the Canadian water supply. We will conduct legislative, policy, and literature reviews to establish the framework Canadian water and wastewater suppliers currently operate in. We will also conduct semi-structured interviews and an online survey of water and wastewater operators, to gauge current practices and perceived threats to the water supply. This research will allow us to develop a risk profile for the Canadian water sector. We will have two principle outcomes: a full report on threats and risks to the Canadian water sector, and recommendations for improving water safety and security practices across the country.
This work is supported by the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association.