By: Linda Pim
At long last, the Ontario government has responded to the call for a watershed-planning approach to protecting drinking water sources. The call for safe drinking water through good watershed planning came in the May 2002 recommendations of the Walkerton Inquiry.
This judicial probe examined the deaths of seven people and the illness of 2,000 others in the town of Walkerton (in the Lake Huron watershed) and how such deaths could be avoided in the future. The deaths and illnesses occurred during the spring of 2000 after the contamination of the town’s well-water supply by a virulent strain of E. coli bacteria.
In late October 2002,Ontario Premier Ernie Eves announced that his government would put together an advisory committee to develop a watershed framework for water source protection. Among the groups that have been pressing for a watershed approach to safe drinking water are the Canadian Environmental Law Association, the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Soil and Water Conservation Society, Conservation Ontario (the association of conservation authorities) and Ducks Unlimited. It is hoped and expected that the government will appoint some or all of these organizations to the advisory committee. For further information and updates, visit the website of the Canadian Environmental Law Association at www.cela.ca.