Two incompetent and dishonest brothers and a Conservative government determined to slash spending and red tape were key contributors to the Walkerton water tragedy, the inquiry into the E. coli disaster has concluded, sources told The Canadian Press.
Sources familiar with the 700-page report suggest it paints a grim picture of a system so fraught with problems that Walkerton was a catastrophe waiting to happen.
The failure culminated in May 2000 in one of the country's worst public health crises. Seven people died and 2,300 fell ill, with lasting damage estimated at $155 million.
In his report, inquiry head Justice Dennis O'Connor makes it clear that the brothers who ran the water system must bear the biggest share of responsibility, the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the national news service.
By their own admission, O'Connor notes, Stan and Frank Koebel chose to ignore safety guidelines for disinfecting and monitoring the town's drinking water, largely in order to take a short cut.
They falsified records to avoid having their shoddy practices uncovered, and tried desperately to hide the emerging crisis as bacteria-Laden water found its way to taps in the midwestern Ontario town of 5,000.