Safe Drinking Water Policy for Canada - Turning Hindsight into Foresight

36 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2011

See all articles by Steve E. Hrudey

Steve E. Hrudey

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: February 28, 2011


Much of Canada lags international leaders in adopting management systems for assuring safe drinking water. Despite some clear progress in individual provinces, Canada, and small communities in particular, need a system that better promotes and rewards competence among drinking water providers. In much of the developed, industrialized world, including most of urbanized Canada, public drinking water poses a negligible health risk. But in the wake of a series of management failures with severe negative health consequences, Canada’s drinking water regulation is still managed in a fragmented way that leaves us vulnerable to water-quality failures, most likely in small systems. The problem is not that numerical water safety criteria are inadequately stringent; the documented failures have been caused by an inability to operate water systems effectively, pointing to poor operator competence and inadequate support systems. Canada needs the universal adoption of a "know your own system" water safety plan approach, based on a tangible demonstration of operator competence in understanding and delivering safe drinking water.

Keywords: Water Series, Canada, safe drinking water

JEL Classification: Q53, Q58

Suggested Citation

Hrudey, Steve E., Safe Drinking Water Policy for Canada - Turning Hindsight into Foresight (February 28, 2011). C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, No. 323, Available at SSRN: or

Steve E. Hrudey (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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