At least 1,838 drinking water advisories across Canada: report
Published Friday, March 13, 2015 9:03AM EDT
Despite being home to seven per cent of the world's renewable freshwater, a new report has found that thousands of Canadians were warned not to drink the water flowing from their taps this winter.
The report by the Council of Canadians found that, as of January, there were 1,838 drinking water advisories in effect across the country.
Of the advisories, 1,669 were in counties or cities for which the province is responsible. The other 139 were in First Nations communities that fall under federal jurisdiction. Of the total, more than 500 were in B.C. alone.
In some communities, it has been years since residents could drink tap water without boiling it first, the report’s author Emma Lui told CTV’s Canada AM on Friday.
The First Nations community of Shoal Lake, Man., for example, has been under a boil water advisory for 17 years, despite its location beside an aqueduct that directs safe water to Winnipeg.
Oil sands expansion, pipelines, fracking, and climate change also pose threats to drinking water, Lui said in a statement released with the report.
"Funding is one big challenge. The federal government has not been properly funding infrastructure in First Nations communities" Liu said.
"Too many communities are being affected by increasingly long drinking water advisories, yet governments continue to approve resource and development projects that endanger lakes, rivers, and groundwater."
Canada currently does not have legally binding standards for water quality, and the report labels the current water policy, which was passed in the late 1980s, "badly outdated." The Council of Canadians is calling for renewed laws to addresses current environmental risks.
Health Canada said in a statement that it works with provincial and territorial governments to write the current guidelines in a way that will protect "the most vulnerable members of society, such as children and the elderly."
But Maude Barlow, the chair of the Council of Canadians, said Canada has "a situation where companies can make unconstrained profits, but at the expense of the water we drink."
"In 2012, Canada endorsed the UN resolutions saying that water is a human right," Barlow said in a statement released with the report. "We have to start acting like it if we want to avoid a future water crisis."