Hi all…some of you will have received this latest Health Canada guidance announcement but it may have gone unnoticed as it was circulated on Dec. 24. It is entitled “Guidance For Providing Safe Drinking Water in Areas of Federal Jurisdiction” and is very timely. The document exceeds 100 pages in length and is quite detailed.
The PREFACE indicates that “most drinking water supplies in Canada are under provincial or territorial jurisdiction and have regulations, policies and/or standard operating procedures to follow. Federal departments are responsible for the safety of drinking water provided to consumers in areas of federal jurisdiction. Federal legislation establishes the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality (GCDWQ) as the prescribed standards but does not provide guidance on their implementation. This document is intended to provide technical guidance to assist federal departments meet their legislative obligations. It takes into consideration the unique circumstances faced by many departments in order to best protect human health. While fully achieving the guidance in this document is the end goal, the focus should remain on the achievement of incremental improvements over time as an indicator of success.”
Section 2.5 (Roles and responsibilities in the federal jurisdiction) concisely addresses some questions I had stating: “No single federal department has overall authority for drinking water quality on federal lands. Health Canada provides leadership, as well as guidance upon request, but has no mandate to ensure safe drinking water in the federal house. Each department or responsible authority is in charge of implementing a drinking water program in areas within its mandate and is accountable for carrying out its duties. Each department should define who is responsible for drinking water management in their facilities; each person involved with drinking water programs needs to know what is expected of them and their level of responsibility. Departments should make sure all required tasks have been assigned to specific, qualified staff.”