October 28, 2002

NEWS SUMMARY: BC introduces legislation to improve drinking water protection

VICTORIA, BC-Amendments to British Columbia's Drinking Water Protection Act were introduced earlier this month by Water, Land and Air Protection Minister Joyce Murray on behalf of Health Services Minister Colin Hansen. The amendments, she said, will improve groundwater protection and will make public health the priority for decisions related to drinking water. The amendments will assign accountability and decision-making responsibility for drinking water to the Health Services Minister and BC's provincial health officer. The legislation will enable the minister to establish guidelines and directives and will strengthen the provincial health officer's role in monitoring and reporting annually on drinking water and public health protection. Other provisions will create new drinking water officers throughout BC, with the authority to investigate complaints, require testing and assessment, conduct inspections, co-ordinate source protection, issue orders and carry out other responsibilities to ensure water safety. Finally, the legislation will provide for a source-to-tap assessment of all drinking water systems in BC, starting with those potentially posing the highest risk to users. The government expects to proclaim the new legislation later this winter, once consultations have been completed and new regulations developed.
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