3. What is the precautionary principle, and how should it be applied during the source protection planning process under the Clean Water Act, 2006?


ANSWER: Because the Clean Water Act, 2006 is aimed at anticipating and preventing degradation of drinking water sources, the legislation is inherently precautionary. While the source protection planning process is intended to be science-based, there may be inevitable data gaps or scientific uncertainty at the local level as Source Protection Committees identify, assess, and address drinking water threats. In such circumstances, the precautionary principle mandates that where activities or conditions may create serious or irreversible impacts upon groundwater or surface water, the lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing or avoiding measures to prevent contamination or depletion of drinking water sources.


Evolution of the Precautionary Principle Over the past two decades, the precautionary principle has emerged as a fundamental concept that promotes proactive and... download 4 page fact sheet below.

Last updated May 2009

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