Geography Publications

Title

Local Water Diversely Known: Walkerton Ontario, 2000 and After

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2005

Journal

Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

Volume

23

Issue

2

First Page

251

Last Page

271

URL with Digital Object Identifier

http://dx.doi.org/10.1068/d431

Abstract

In this narrative of the water contamination in Walkerton, Ontario, in 2000 - 02 I consider the local priorities defining good water. These vernacular understandings emphasised taste, softness, and thrift in municipal water, and they highly valued local sovereignty in matters of water quality, and solidarity as a quality of local citizenship. By using contemporaneous evidence from media reports and the judicial enquiry into the incident, I trace how the qualities of good water were redefined, and with them community standards of safety, expertise, and risk. The emphasis on community consent to vernacular water monitoring practices and the implications of this shared responsibility differ from the journalistic and judicial accounts which emphasise individual culpability.