Webinar: Remembering and Never Forgetting the Walkerton E. coli Tragedy

Remembering and Never Forgetting the Walkerton E. coli Tragedy”

You are invited to attend a complimentary webinar workshop, hosted by the Ontario Municipal Water Association (OMWA).

WHEN: Thursday, May 28th, 202011:00 AM

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Everyone involved in the water industry. We must never forget the Walkerton outbreak and pay homage to those who suffered and to those who started us on the path to recovery. Whether you are a new recruit or have years of dedicated service, this is a must-attend webinar. A reflection on past and present.



Today the news is consumed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is vitally important that we never forget past tragedies such as the Walkerton E. coli 0157 because they help prevent other similar reoccurrences.

In May of 2000, Southern Ontario experienced several days of heavy rain. Weeks later, the Town of Walkerton had changed forever. Seven people died and 2,300 others suffered life-long health implications after E. coli had entered Walkerton’s drinking water supply. A provincial inquiry followed and determined that it was a combination of factors that lead to the town’s water supply being contaminated. This tragedy changed Ontario’s water industry landscape for ever and has shaped the values and processes that we have today. But as we pass the 20th anniversary of Walkerton, it is not only a time to reflect on the lessons learned from the tragedy, but also a time to remember , and perhaps more importantly, a time to recommit as an industry, to ensuring that Ontario will continue to have the safest drinking water in the world. We owe it to those who lost their lives, and whose lives were changed forever in May of 2000.

Join us on Thursday, May 28th and hear from key figures involved with putting our water industry on the path to recovery and those who wish to keep the Walkerton teachings in the forefront. This is your opportunity to ask your questions about what actually happened in Walkerton or the systems put in place immediately following or its legacy, the Walkerton Clean Water Centre.


  • The Honourable Dennis O’Connor, formerly the Associate Chief Justice of Ontario and was appointed to oversee the inquiry into the Walkerton tragedy
  • James Smith, was Ontario’s First Chief Drinking Water Inspector, and as Assistant Deputy Minister, established the Drinking Water Management Division with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
  • Carl Kuhnke, was appointed the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Walkerton Clean Water Centre in 2017
  • Ed Houghton, Executive Director of the Ontario Municipal Water Association


Please register for this workshop using the following ZOOM link:


Once you have registered you will receive a confirmation email within 12 hours containing instructions for how to join the webinar.

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OMWA: Celebrating Fifty Years

Nineteen sixty-six: fifty years ago. The year the Beatles released their Revolver album. President Lyndon Johnson committed the United States to fight South Vietnam until Communist aggression ended. The Canada Pension Plan and the Quebec Pension Plan both begin operation. The Toronto Transit Commission opened the Bloor-Danforth Subway line. The CBC became the first Canadian television network to broadcast in colour.

And in October, the Ontario Municipal Water Association was formed.

It began with a simple resolution to create an organization “…with respect to area water supply comparable to the Ontario Municipal Electrical Association.” Fifteen participating municipalities from southwestern Ontario all signed it.

A month later, the first constitution was adopted, and in March, 1967, the first annual meeting drew 185 delegates from municipalities from across Ontario and one from Quebec. C.J.F. Ross QC, vice chair of London Public Utilities Commission, was elected as the first president of OMWA. Jim Craig was appointed executive director.

The Ontario Municipal Water Association is unique in Canada: a political organization advocating for municipally-owned water systems. It has no competing interests, allowing OMWA the autonomy to take political positions in the best interests of its membership, and petition government to act accordingly.

In 1969, the first meeting of a new Ontario branch of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) – the forerunner of today’s OWWA – attracted 102 delegates. The new branch opened talks with OMWA to host a joint conference, beginning in 1971. The two organizations also held their first joint annual meeting in 1971.

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