Water everywhere and barely a drop fit to drink

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Water everywhere and barely a drop fit to drink Source: South China Morning Post Publication date: 2000-12-26

For the country that may have more fresh water than any other country in the world, the past year has brought the unpleasant realisation that its people are being poisoned by rampant pollution. The year's bad news began in the town of Walkerton, a peaceful community of 5,000 in southern Ontario, when spring rains polluted the town's water supply, killing seven people and making more than 2,000 ill.

It took more than five months to clean up the Walkerton water system that had been polluted by E.coli from cattle manure that entered the water system from a nearby farm.

The news since the Walkerton outbreak in May has not improved. Municipal water authorities throughout Canada discovered there were far more bacteria contaminating their water than they had suspected.

The Government of Ontario, already embarrassed by Walkerton, conducted a survey of all the water-treatment plants in the province and found that more than half were crippled by serious deficiencies. Of the 645 waterworks inspected by the Government, 357 had major failures. That means millions of unsuspecting Ontario citizens were drinking water that was far short of government standards.

Environmental groups believe that cuts to pollution-control budgets were largely responsible for disasters like Walkerton. But the inquiry into the Walkerton disaster has produced evidence of a more astonishingly banal explanation - massive incompetence and fraud by municipal officials who had neither the training nor the wit to do their jobs.

Attention has focused particularly on Stan Koebel, the manager of the water treatment system, who admitted that he ignored warnings about pollution, who systematically falsified reports about the state of the water system, and who tolerated drinking on the job by other employees who were equally incompetent.

Even Mr Koebel admitted that he did not have the training to do the job.

The province's Premier, Mike Harris, was quick to acknowledge his own astonishment at the evidence presented to the inquiry, and his consolation may be that there were problems with the water system long before he came to power five years ago.

Mr Harris may find further unhappy consolation in the report this week that water systems on Indian reserves across the country are plagued by incompetent managers and water systems that are threatening the health of native inhabitants.

A report prepared for the federal Indian Affairs Department said that of the 800 treatment plants on reserves across the country, 79 have the "potential to cause a health and safety concern". Even trucks transporting water to the reserves and the cisterns in which the water was stored were revealed to be contaminated and when a problem is identified there is not necessarily a fast cure. On some reserves for several years the residents have had to boil water before they use it.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), December 26, 2000



The only thing I think I'd add to this is: Folks, You better have a good water filter and use it 100% of the time!

The britta pitcher is not what I have in mind either!

We have a Reverse Osmosis with a UV bug zapper on the front end. Is your family's life the $250 ???

-- (perry@ofuzzy1.com), December 27, 2000.

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