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Ensuring safe drinking water

June 7, 2021

Ensuring safe drinking water

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Accreditation contributing to Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation

When you turn on your tap, you expect clear, clean and safe drinking water. Standards, accreditation, and conformity assessments are the invisible shield that help ensure this. Quality infrastructure plays an important role in ensuring safety in our daily lives, even when we may not realize it.

In 2000, Walkerton, Ontario’s municipal water system became contaminated with a deadly strain of E. coli bacteria. This tragic event resulted in six deaths and over 2000 illnesses in the small town. This event challenged our assumptions about clean drinking water.

The Walkerton Inquiry identified many causes for the outbreak including a lack of proper oversight of drinking water laboratories in the province. The inquiry recommended that standards and conformity assessment should play a greater role in protecting the safety of drinking water.

Standardization solution

As a result of the Inquiry’s recommendations, the Ontario Safe Drinking Water Act (OSDWA) was enacted. The Act requires all drinking water laboratories in Ontario to be accredited and licensed to test drinking water. The labs must be accredited to the ISO/IEC 17025 General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories standard.

Accreditation and conformity assessment

SCC is a recognized accreditation body of these laboratories since the enactment of OSDWA in 2002. Accreditation under SCC’s program for Testing and Calibration Laboratories gives assurance that a laboratory is competent to carry out environmental test and enables laboratories to better meet their obligations to regulators.

By using the standardization process and SCC’s accreditation system, regulators addressed an important public policy goal to protect the health and wellbeing of Ontarians.

This is one of the examples of how the quality infrastructure helps support clean drinking water and how we work with regulators for the benefit of Canadians.

Learn about SCC’s Accreditation program for Testing and Calibration Laboratories