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Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water (CDW)

The main responsibility of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water (CDW) is to establish the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. For information on these guidelines, including how they are developed, a summary of guideline values, and links to specific guideline documents, see Drinking Water Guidelines.

The CDW has evolved to take on additional roles to protect drinking water quality, including working in collaboration with the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) to develop the Multi-Barrier Approach to Safe Drinking Water.

The CDW sponsors the Canadian National Drinking Water Conference, which is organized by the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association. This biennial conference provides a forum for the exchange of information on drinking water quality in Canada. It focuses on reviews of scientific data relating to drinking water quality, on assessments of the implications of this data for health and public policies designed to protect the safe quality of the nation's drinking water supplies. The first National conference was held in Ottawa in 1984. In 2000, the National conference has been expanded to include a Policy Forum on Drinking Water.

The CDW is a well-established national committee that has been active for more than 20 years. Health Canada provides scientific and technical expertise to the Committee, and coordinates its activities. The CDW reports to the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Health and the Environment (CHE). CHE, in turn, reports on health issues to the Advisory Committee on Population Health and Health Security (ACPHHS) and on environmental issues to the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment.

Who sits on the Committee?

The CDW meets twice per year and is made up of voting and non-voting members. There are 14 voting members, one for each jurisdiction in Canada (10 provinces, three territories, and the federal government). These members represent the authority responsible for drinking water quality in their jurisdiction, usually either the department of health or the environment. Non-voting members include representatives from the CHE, Environment Canada, and the Canadian Advisory Council on Plumbing. At each meeting, a number of experts are usually invited to make presentations on topics that relate to the quality of drinking water in Canada.

How does the Committee make decisions about guidelines?

For each guideline being considered, Health Canada's Water Quality and Health Bureau prepares a guideline document which outlines the latest research into the health effects associated with the contaminant, Canadian exposure to the contaminant, and treatment and analytical considerations. This technical document and a proposed guideline value are peer-reviewed by external experts, reviewed by the CDW, and undergo a public consultation. The guideline document is revised based on all the feedback received. CDW members provide input on the feasibility of implementing the guideline and discuss any outstanding concerns.

Once all the jurisdictions are satisfied with the guideline and supporting document, the members reach consensus that the guideline is ready to be approved. It is then sent to the CDW's parent committee, the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Health and the Environment, for final approval. The approved guideline and supporting document are then published on the Health Canada Web site.

What information you can find here

In this section you will find information on how the Committee works and decisions it has made at recent meetings (since 1997). This is where you will find the Committee's Terms of Reference and Minutes from recent meetings.

If you are a regulator or work in the drinking water field, you may be interested in the Committee's Priority List which outlines the contaminants scheduled for review in the near future. You may also be interested in reviewing draft guidelines and participating in our public consultations. If you would like to be notified whenever new documents are posted to this Web site, join our water_eau listserv.

If you would like to know more about how guidelines are developed or would like specific information on existing guidelines, see Drinking Water Guidelines.