NDP Calls on Pallister Government to Maintain Safeguards on Drinking Water Systems

The NDP is calling on the Pallister government on World Water Day to be honest about its “Red Tape” bill, which weakens reviews that safeguard Manitoba’s drinking water, said NDP Environment Critic Rob Altemeyer. While mandatory testing of water continues, the government is relaxing how frequently the systems that treat and distribute our drinking water are subject to reassessment, Altemeyer said.

“On World Water Day, this government should be taking steps to increase protection for our water. Instead, they are loosening standards,” said Altemeyer. “If we’ve learned anything from the Walkerton inquiry and other serious water crises, it’s that all of us must be continually vigilant.”

Bill 24, the government’s so-called “Red Tape Reduction and Government Efficiency Act”, gives the province the discretion to decide how frequently drinking water systems are subject to review, up to a maximum of 10 years from the current five-year period.

The Walkerton Inquiry, which detailed the systemic failures in regulating safe water in the community of Walkerton, Ont., recommended that all water systems should be subject to regular reassessment and suggested this should be done every five years.

“The greatest concern with this legislation is that with a stroke of a pen, the government could push off by an additional five years the mandatory reviews of any water system that services more than 15 people, regardless of whether that’s a campground or a major city,” said Altemeyer. “In their rush to cut so-called “red tape”, the government has weakened legislation that should be above reproach.”

Altemeyer noted that he will also be introducing legislation today that requires further mandatory reporting by the province of nutrient levels in rivers and streams that flow into Lake Winnipeg.