Abstract

Drinking-water management systems (DWMSs) represent the primary means for preventative management of a drinking-water supply and are defined as a system of policies, procedures and administrative/behavioral controls designed to ensure safe drinking water from source to tap. With influence and inspiration ranging from safe food handling to industrial quality management, DWMSs can take, and have taken, many different forms throughout the world. This variability is especially true in Canada, a country with a decentralized governance structure, where provincial and territorial governments are mostly autonomous in regard to drinking-water governance and management. While this has resulted in comprehensive DWMSs in provinces such as Ontario, less-proactive provinces and territories have fallen behind and may be exposing consumers to under-protected and vulnerable drinking-water supplies. This paper includes a review and comparison of the existing Canadian national, provincial and territorial approaches to drinking-water management, the World Health Organization Water Safety Plan Recommendations, national DWMSs from Australia and New Zealand, and also includes widely applied, generic quality management systems. This information is then used to gauge the comprehensiveness of DWMSs in Canada and highlight potential management gaps and policy recommendations for the development of new, or improving existing, DWMSs.

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