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NEWS: Ecojustice releases ‘Waterproof 3’ report

Postmedia News reports, “A patchwork system of drinking-water standards across the country has left some Canadians at risk of contracting potentially deadly diseases, according to a new report (‘Waterproof 3’ by Vancouver-based Ecojustice). The assessment from the environmental watchdog gave decent and good grades to several provinces, including top marks to Ontario and Nova Scotia, but reserved its harshest critique for the federal government, which received a failing grade.”

“The report says the federal government has done little to improve drinking water conditions, including those in First Nations communities. It also cited a reluctance to create rigorous national drinking water standards. ‘From 2001 to 2006, there was clear improvement in drinking water standards across the country. Not only was it getting better, it was getting significantly better,’ report author Randy Christensen said in an interview. ‘What we found most surprising now is that between 2006 and 2011, that momentum has been lost.’ …The report says government cuts, climate change and unprotected source water are the biggest emerging threats to the country’s drinking water system.”

According to a one-page summary of the report, the federal government received an F because:

– No progress has been made on the legislative front and there has been little improvement in the quality of water for First Nations communities.
– Drastic budget cuts virtually guarantee that Environment Canada will continue its inability to properly monitor water quality, as described in a recent Auditor General’s report.
– Some drinking water improvement funds are available only to municipalities that engage in public-private partnerships.
Among the recommendations made by Ecojustice:
– Review legislation and policies to ensure consistency with the newly acknowledged human right to water.
– Make specific, high-priority plans to address situations where Canadians to do not have reliable access to safe drinking water.
– Acknowledge that water is a public trust (or community good) and explicitly acknowledge that the government is a trustee of water and bound to protect it for present and future generations.

Canoe News/ QMI Agency adds, “Ecojustice identified Ontario (A) and Nova Scotia (A-) as leaders in protecting drinking water. Most of the rest of the country gets a middling grade (B, B+ or B-), except for N.W.T. (C) and Alberta (C-). The biggest failing, said the report, is in Yukon (D+) and Nunavut (D), where First Nations communities in particular lack access to clean, safe water because of ‘the absence of federal regulations and adequate funding’.”

Council of Canadians water campaigner Meera Karunananthan will be interviewed on this report tomorrow morning by CBXFT, which is CBC/Radio-Canada’s television station serving Franco-Albertans in Edmonton and some parts of Alberta. The Edmonton Journal reports, “In its report, Ecojustice said Alberta is not specific about laws governing source water protection, and argued industrial development (such as oil and gas extraction and logging) presents a threat to water safety when the two areas collide. …Alberta was the lowest-ranking province in Ecojustice’s report…”

To read the full report, please go to http://www.ecojustice.ca/waterproof-3.