Environment and Conservation
Municipal Affairs
May 9, 2008

Drinking Water Safety Initiative Unveiled for Newfoundland and Labrador

The Honourable Charlene Johnson, Minister of Environment and Conservation, along with the Honourable Dave Denine, Minister of Municipal Affairs, today announced the Drinking Water Safety Initiative for Newfoundland and Labrador. The initiative will develop a comprehensive overview of drinking water quality issues in municipalities and communities in parts of the province, and develop a sustainable plan of action to deal with those issues.

"We are dedicated to ensuring the water we drink is indeed clean and safe, and that our water system operators have both the required knowledge and the training to properly operate the drinking water systems we all depend upon," said Minister Johnson. "There is an increased public awareness about the safety of drinking water throughout our province and our nation as a whole. We must constantly consider new ideas, new programs and new technologies that ensure clean, safe and reliable drinking water to each and every resident of this province. This drinking water initiative is a good first step in addressing the immediate needs of some of our smaller rural areas."

Building on the principles of the Multi-Barrier Strategic Action Plan, the Drinking Water Safety Initiative for Newfoundland and Labrador outlines several options to improve upon drinking water safety in the province and is based on a comprehensive evaluation of every public water supply in the province. A significant component of this initiative includes the installation of Potable Water Dispensing Units. These units are small scale water treatment plants from which the residents of small communities are provided high quality drinking water.

To implement the Drinking Water Safety Initiative, $2.9 million has been allocated to the Department of Environment and Conservation over the next three years. In Budget 2008, $1.025 million was allocated, and $925,000 will be spent in each of the following two years. A further $6 million annually within the Department of Municipal Affairs will be targeted towards investment in infrastructure to provide clean, safe drinking water, including potable water dispensing systems.

"We are committed to working with municipalities to identify shortfalls which may exist, and address water infrastructures which may require investment to ensure services are modern, secure, safe and accessible to all communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador," said Minister Denine. "Water is an essential part of our daily lives. This government understands the need for this basic requirement of life and will continue through the drinking water initiative to bring potable water to communities throughout the province."

The initiative begins with focusing on rural communities with populations of less than 500 people, detailed engineering studies will identify options for communities with more than 500 people on a priority basis over the next three years.

"The geography and various environmental factors of some of the smaller communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador do not permit a �one size fits all� approach to dealing with water quality matters," said Minister Johnson. "Through phase one and the subsequent phases of our initiative, we will continue to reaffirm our commitment to safe and reliable drinking water for all residents, determining the appropriate solution for communities."

Minister Johnson also released the Drinking Water Safety in Newfoundland and Labrador Annual Report 2007 which outlines the accomplishments and activities for 2006-07 under the Multi-Barrier Strategic Action Plan for drinking water safety. The report highlights 319 of the province�s designated protected water supply areas, 146 on-site training sessions provided by the department�s mobile training units, and the approximately 19,000 bacteriological samples that were collected and analyzed.

"The Provincial Government�s proactive approach to drinking water safety will ensure the long-term integrity of our drinking water quality," said Minister Johnson. "Through our annual drinking water quality reports, we will continue to keep our communities and the general public informed about all aspects of drinking water safety in the province, and I am very pleased to present this sixth annual report.

The Drinking Water Safety in Newfoundland and Labrador Annual Report 2007 is available online at //www.env.gov.nl.ca/Env/env/waterres/Reports/Reports.asp

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Media contacts:

Melony O�Neill
Director of Communications
Department of Environment and Conservation
709-729-2575, 689-0928
Bradley Power
Communications Specialist
Department of Municipal Affairs
709-729-0857, 697-5216

2008 05 09                                                     11:45 a.m.


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