In North Battleford, Saskatchewan, cryptosporidium in the water supply is being blamed for a recent outbreak of illness and possibly one death. This event represents the latest in a spate of water crises, calling attention to Canada's aging water treatment infrastructure situation.

Almost no province is free of water problems, and hundreds of towns across the country are under orders to boil their drinking water. A recent study found that more than 645 municipal water plants in Ontario fail to meet standards. In Quebec, 542 water-pollution advisories were issued last year. Perhaps most striking, however, is a recent poll conducted for Toronto's National Post that found that 46 percent of Canadians feel unsafe drinking from their own taps.

Many, including some water workers, members of parliament, environmental groups and concerned citizens, are demanding American-style, legally enforceable national water quality standards and "massive" federal aid for infrastructure programs.

However, any real solution is going to cost Canadians - the Federation of Canadian Municipalities has estimated that over C$16.5 billion will be needed to upgrade water infrastructure over the next 10 years. The Canadian Water and Wastewater Association puts the mark higher, estimating C$90 billion over the next 15 years.