CWWA Communique: Extended Rail Blockades Threaten Safe Drinking Water
February 24, 2020
Posted by: Audrey Arisman
CWWA members are beginning to express concerns that the ongoing rail blockades that are causing disruptions in the transport and supply of vital chemicals used in water treatment. A shortage of these supplies will threaten our ability to supply safe drinking water to our members and put our systems at risk.
CWWA members are the municipal utility leaders and water professionals across Canada whose responsibility it is to ensure safe, reliable drinking water to their communities. While each situation is unique, our systems require specific chemicals, such a chlorine. Smaller utilities rely on propane for operations. These critical supplies are transported across the country by rail to the regional distribution sites for delivery to municipalities.
While utilities maintain small stockpiles of these materials for short disruptions, most do not hold enough reserves to last a greatly extended period of more than 4 to 6 weeks. If supplies were to run out, utilities across Canada would need to issues “Boil Water” or “Do Not Consume” orders. Eventual recovery from this situation, to flush and re-purify the water throughout the system, would take considerable time and money.
We encourage the federal government to continue efforts toward a resolution of these blockades as quickly as possible. If not a complete lifting of the blockades, perhaps the parties could negotiate a partial or temporary lifting of blockades to allow such critical supplies reach communities across Canada.
Is YOUR utility impacted or threatened by these rail disruptions? If so, we encourage you to let us know here at the CWWA. Let your municipal council know so that they may express concerns directly or through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Finally, we encourage you, as a utility, or your municipal council, to express these concerns directly to the Minister of Transport at:
Minister of Transport
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6