Prince Rupert Labour Council Adopts Clean Water Campaign

Community for Clean Water was launched in response to the City of Prince Rupert’s extended boil water notice in 2018-19. Prince Rupert is now under a months long Water Quality Advisory (that started in August 2020!). Our community deserves better. To help raise the issue of access to clean water for all North Coast communities, and beyond, the Prince Rupert Labour Council decided at its March 2021 meeting to adopt the Community for Clean Water Campaign.

Community for Clean Water will continue to be a grassroots and community-driven campaign. With the support of the Labour Council, we will now bring together over 1,000 union members affiliated with the Prince Rupert Labour Council to help us raise the issue of clean water for all North Coast communities.

To learn more, please contact Prince Rupert Labour Council president Tom Kertes at 778-884-5343 or

Day 1: August 17, 2020

Prince Rupert has notified residents of a Water Quality Advisory. See below for the text of today’s emergency alert.

Hopefully there will not be a repeat of the 6-week boil water notice of 2018-19. As before, regardless of the reason for the advisory, the city should be prepared to provide access to clean water – especially for the city’s most vulnerable residents.

As before, the city should anticipate these kinds of advisories, especially given our wet-coast location and the city’s ongoing infrastructure project. Emergency plans, that ensure everyone gets water during an advisory or notice, should already be in place.

As we learned in 2018-19, clean water is essential. Everyone in Prince Rupert has a human right to access clean water on an equal basis. Water should not be reserved for those with money or power.

Whatever the reason, whenever there is a water quality advisory equal access to clean water becomes limited for some but not others. That fact has nothing to do with pipes, dams, or rain. It can only be addressed by our priorities – as a community. Will we prepare for everyone? Will we provide access to all, even when there is an emergency or storm?

People who can afford filters and bottled water have more access than those who cannot. That’s simply not fair and Prince Rupert can and should do better. Once again, we call on the city to provide emergency alternative access to clean water for those who need it – whenever there is an advisory or notice and regardless of the reason for the restricted access to clean water.

While a precautionary boil water notice may seem small to some people, for anyone who is struggling to make ends meet, or who is medically vulnerable, it is not small. That’s why the city should be proactive in its approach during this Water Quality Advisory and should always be prepared in case another one soon follows.

Hopefully, with speedy and accurate testing in place, improved communication with residents, and proper plans and preparations the city will do better this time than it did in 2018-19. Following that boil water notice and water advisory, the following recommendations were presented to the city (it should also be noted that the city did not implement these recommendations):

(1) Recognize access to drinking water as a human right which must be fulfilled by the municipal government, especially for the city’s most vulnerable residents and even during a Boil Water Notice or Water Quality Advisory.

(2) Launch a broad, extensive, independent, and transparent investigation into the city’s preparations for, and responses to, a 46 plus day Boil Water Notice and Water Quality Advisory that includes looking into measures provided for vulnerable residents, the health and safety affects of the situation, and any economic impacts.

(3) Ensure that the investigation is conducted by an independent expert on water quality and public water infrastructure who gathers feedback directly from those most vulnerable to restricted access to drinking water during an extended breakdown of the public water system. The full results of the investigation should be made public.

From today’s notice:

Please note that due to high turbidity levels detected in the drinking water supply relating to the ongoing heavy rain event, a Water Quality Advisory has been issued for City of Prince Rupert water users. Until further notice, Northern Health recommends that children, pregnant women, the elderly and persons with weakened immune systems drink boiled water at this time. A water quality advisory is the lowest level notification, and is issued as a precautionary measure. At risk individuals should boil their water for 1 minute prior to consuming until the Advisory is lifted. Go to for additional information.

Solutions – Access to Clean Water is a Human Right

Access to drinking water is a human right. The past 6 weeks of a Boil Water Notice for the 12,000 residents of Prince Rupert (which was downgraded to a Water Quality Advisory on January 25, 2019) is a good reminder that we can’t take this human right for granted.

It’s not enough for those with money to buy water, cars to drive to the store, dishwashers to clean and sanitize dishes, or the means to boil water to have access to the clean water that everyone needs. When the water system breaks down, we should be ready to provide access on an emergency basis to those who need drinking water but don’t have the means to access it.

Let’s work together to ensure that everyone – and that means people everywhere – have the human right to accessible drinking water. Prince Rupert still needs to be better prepared, especially with the water system rebuilds taking years to complete. But we can’t stop with our own city. We must work together until every community in Canada has access to drinking water. And we must also work together until every community in the world has still same right recognized and realized.