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In this free webinar, you will hear from four leading BC water experts on the topic of protecting drinking water sources.
Laith Furatian & Len Clarkson will review the Walkerton, Ontario drinking water contamination tragedy, examine the subsequent inquiry recommendations from a British Columbia perspective and consider how they might be implemented here using a uniquely British Columbian approach.
Doug Wahl of the BC Forest Practices Board will discuss some of the Board’s experiences and perspectives on source water protection on Crown forest and range land, and provide some suggestions to enable more effective planning and management.
And finally, Rebecca Mersereau, Project Manager at water consulting firm Econics, will share an update on how the Ministry of Health is responding to the Auditor General's recent report, Protecting Drinking Water. Rebecca will also provide insights about opportunities to strengthen legislation, policies, and practices related to drinking water source protection, and seek feedback from webinar participants. The panelists will field questions in a Q&A moderated by Jacqueline Smith of KWL.
This is a free event, and registrants will receive a link to access the webinar prior to the event. Please contact Rachel Osterman at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns.
Walkerton Twenty Years On - Inquiry Recommendations Relevant in BC Today
Presenters: Laith Furatian, Ph.D., Stantec & Len Clarkson (Retired)
In May of 2000, drinking water contamination devastated the community of Walkerton, Ontario, resulting in acute illness for 2,300 residents, debilitating long-term health effects for many, and seven deaths.
The tangible economic impact was estimated to be over $64.5 million. The subsequent inquiry lead by Justice O’Connor examined the events and their causes and conducted a comprehensive review of drinking water provision across the province.
That review included the examination of statutory, regulatory, technological, management and operational systems and processes for Ontario drinking water.
A total of 93 recommendations were made to address identified weaknesses. The Inquiry revelations had a profound impact throughout Canada and beyond, influencing the modernization of drinking water legislation, including the BC Drinking Water Protection Act. We revisit those recommendations relating to source water protection, review how they have been implemented in Ontario, and consider how they might be implemented here using a uniquely British Columbian approach.
Planning Source Water Protection on Forest and Range Lands
Presenter: Doug Wahl, R.P.Bio., BC Forest Practices Board
Source water protection is a big deal to British Columbians. Threats to water quality is in the news frequently including how it is regulated by the BC government and delivered by local government. Over the past 25 years, impacts of forest and range practices to water has consistently been a leading subject of concerns and complaints investigated by the BC Forest Practices Board.
Providing safe drinking water is challenging and complex and there are many factors outside the control of those legally charged with doing so. Climate change is expected to make it even more complicated. But we can’t start effectively protecting water until there is a unified plan amongst all land users and interests within a watershed.
This presentation will share some of the Board’s experiences and perspectives on source water protection on Crown forest and range land, and provide some suggestions to enable more effective planning and management. For further information, we encourage you to read this document, prepared by EGBC and ABCFP in response to one of the Forest Practices Board’s recommendations in the Community Watershed investigation.”
Seeking Opportunities to Improve Drinking Water Source Protection in BC
Presenter: Rebecca Mersereau, RPBio, M.Sc., MPA, Econics
Protecting the quality of drinking water sources is a complicated web of responsibility. Drinking water providers, regional health authorities, and several provincial ministries all have important and sometimes conflicting roles to play. Balancing competing natural resource values and regulating activities on both private and crown land that may impact drinking water sources continue to be significant challenges in BC and elsewhere.
The Auditor General of BC’s Report 'Protecting Drinking Water' released in 2019 highlighted several of these challenges. In response to recommendations from the Report, the BC Ministry of Health is undertaking a project in 2020 to identify opportunities to strengthen legislation, policies, and practices related to drinking water source protection. The consulting team behind the project is currently reviewing legislation and best practices to identify options the Ministry can consider, and engaging extensively with the local, regional, and provincial agencies involved in source protection to identify opportunities for improvement.
This presentation will provide an overview of the project approach, share some preliminary findings, and highlight opportunities for webinar participants and drinking water providers to share ideas and insights with the project team. The project featured in this presentation is a rare opportunity to identify significant and lasting opportunities to improve the safety and security of drinking water for BC residents.