Title: Decentralised drinking water regulation: risks, benefits and the hunt for equality in the Canadian context

Authors: Ryan S.D. Calder; Ketra A. Schmitt

Addresses: Harvard University, 401 Park Drive, 4th Floor West, P.O. Box 15677, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA ' Centre for Engineering in Society, Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve Boulevard West, Montreal, Quebec, H3G 1M8, Canada

Abstract: Drinking water management in Canada is based on the intervention of provinces and territories. This contrasts with the American and European approach of uniform, legally enforced regulation at the federal or super-federal level. The Canadian model has been widely criticised for the unequal level of regulation between provinces and territories and the passive role taken by the federal government. This paper: 1) puts calls for greater centralisation in the context of Canada's social and political climate; 2) reviews government, academic and environmental advocacy literature on competing drinking water regulation paradigms; 3) evaluates strengths and weaknesses of centralised and decentralised frameworks for drinking water regulation in the context of risk management theory and practical challenges. Notably, we evaluate drinking water decision-making as one of many competing opportunities for public spending on risk abatement and posit that increasing the uniformity of drinking water quality does not necessarily increase overall equality.

Keywords: decentralisation; drinking water; environmental advocacy; environmental regulation; federalism; risk assessment; risk management; regionalism; decentralised regulation; water regulation; equality; Canada; water management; unequal regulation; centralisation; public spending; water quality.

DOI: 10.1504/IJW.2015.068960

International Journal of Water, 2015 Vol.9 No.2, pp.178 - 193

Received: 21 Oct 2013
Accepted: 15 Dec 2013

Published online: 22 Apr 2015 *

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