In May of 2000, Southern Ontario experienced several days of heavy rain. Weeks later, the Town of Walkerton had changed forever. Seven people died and 2,300 others suffered life-long health implications after E. coli had entered Walkerton’s drinking water supply. A provincial inquiry followed and determined that it was a combination of factors that lead to the town’s water supply being contaminated. This tragedy changed Ontario’s water industry landscape for ever and has shaped the values and processes that we have today.
As we pass the 20th anniversary of Walkerton, it is not only a time to reflect on the lessons learned from the tragedy, but also a time to remember , and perhaps more importantly, a time to recommit as an industry, to ensuring that Ontario will continue to have the safest drinking water in the world. We owe it to those who lost their lives, and whose lives were changed forever in May of 2000.
This webinar was presented on Thursday, May 28, 2020 and heard from key figures involved with putting our water industry on the path to recovery and those who wish to keep the Walkerton teachings in the forefront.
- The Honourable Dennis O’Connor, formerly the Associate Chief Justice of Ontario and was appointed to oversee the inquiry into the Walkerton tragedy
- James Smith, was Ontario’s First Chief Drinking Water Inspector, and as Assistant Deputy Minister, established the Drinking Water Management Division with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
- Carl Kuhnke, was appointed the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Walkerton Clean Water Centre in 2017
- Ed Houghton, Executive Director of the Ontario Municipal Water Association
For further reading, find the official website below of the public inquiry into the E. coli contamination of the water supply in Walkerton, Ontario.