Canadian Water and Wastewater Association eBulletin

House of Commons Hearings on Lead – November 23rd and 30th

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Appearing before the House of Commons’ Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Committee: 
Robert Haller, Michèle Grenier, Graham Gagnon, Bernadette Conant, Carl Yates, Reid Campbell, 
and Ben Trueman.

What started as a private member’s bill to consider a federal role with regard to lead has moved on to a series of hearings before the Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Committee of Parliament. Chaired by the Hon. Judy Sgro, the committee of MP’s is first educating themselves on the issues surrounding lead in drinking water and then determining if this is strictly a provincial/municipal matter or if there is a role for the federal government to play.

CWWA had made a formal submission when the Bill was first referred to the Committee.  We were then invited to participate in the committee hearings and to suggest qualified witnesses.  CWWA was able to assist the committee in inviting several municipal and academic witnesses.

CWWA’s Executive Director Robert Haller attended the first set of hearings on Thursday, November 23rd and the met with each of the committee members to introduce CWWA and to explain our professional support.  The Committee then heard expert witness from Michèle Grenier (OWWA’s Exec.Dir. and CWWA Board), Carl Yates and Reid Campbell (Halifax Water, AWWA and CWWA), Dr. Graham Gagnon and Ben Trueman (Dalhousie U and AWWA), Dr. Bruce Lanphear (Simon Fraser U), Dr. Marc Edwards (Virginia State) and Bernadette Conant (Canadian Water Network).

The following Thursday, November 30th, the Committee heard expert witness from Dr. Stephen Craik (Epcor) Sal Iannello (City of Welland), Marie Claude Guérin (Trois Rivières), Dr. Michèle Prévost and Elise Deshommes (Polytechnique Montrèal).

While the academic witnesses spoke to the science of lead and the health risks, the municipal witnesses spoke to the challenges faced by utilities in addressing lead through lead removal and corrosion control.  They also spoke to the concerns that are arising from the proposed changes to the national guidelines for drinking water.  While all support efforts to reduce lead, the fact that most of the lead concerns lie in lateral service lines that are primarily on private property poses unique challenges.  Witnesses spoke to options of a national campaign to educate property owners, to provide cash/tax incentives or even enforce lead removal at time of sale.

You can read the minutes or even listen to the witness statements at the Committee webpage: 

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