March 13, 2015 4:26 pm

Thousands of Canadians affected by undrinkable water: report

Reasons for inadequate drinking water include E. coli, inadequate disinfection and source water contamination, among many others.

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Proper drinking water is not an issue for Canadians, right? Wrong, says a new Canadian study.

Thousands of Canadians were warned against drinking their water early this year, and as of January 2015, 1,838 boil water advisories were in effect, according to the report On notice for a drinking water crisis in Canada, by the Council of Canadians.

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The organization’s water campaigner, Emma Lui, outlined the boil water advisories that were in effect in Canada this winter. Advisories caution citizens to avoid drinking their water directly from the tap.

READ MORE Winnipeg boil water advisories: what you need to know

Some advisories were in place for years, dating back to the 1990s, including the 17-year advisory in Shoal Lake No. 40 First Nation in Ontario.

Among Canada’s First Nations communities, Ontario’s have seen the highest number of drinking water advisories.

Reasons for inadequate drinking water include E. coli, inadequate disinfection and source water contamination, among many others.

The report calls on the federal government to “enact national, legally binding standards for drinking water,” to replace the guidelines established by the federal government and provinces/territories. It also criticizes the Harper government’s promotion of “water-intensive industries,” like the tar sands.

In a statement in the report, Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, said, “The current government is giving the green light to more resource extraction projects that endanger our water. At the same time, it has removed environmental safeguards.”

“This creates a situation where companies can make unconstrained profits, but at the expense of the water we drink,” he said.

Health Canada stated that it works with the provincial and territorial governments “to develop drinking water guidelines that are designed to protect the health of the most vulnerable members of society, such as children and the elderly. The guidelines set out the basic parameters needed to provide the cleanest, safest and most reliable drinking water possible.”

© 2015 Shaw Media

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