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Tainted H2O


“Tainted Water” is a national collaborative investigation into Canadian drinking water standards, facilitated by the Institute for Investigative Journalism.

The first year of the investigation included more than 120 reporters, editors, students and faculty members from nine universities and 10 partner media companies. More have since joined.

Unlike most industrialized countries, Canada does not have national drinking water regulations, only guidelines. It’s up to the provinces to incorporate Health Canada guidelines into enforceable regulations. One area where this has proven problematic is in accurately measuring the amount of the neurotoxin lead in drinking water.

Journalism students and reporters pooled their research to delve more deeply into the scope of this issue.

The investigation found that the patchwork of provincial regulations across Canada are not tackling lead aggressively, leaving Montreal, parts of Gatineau, Regina, Moose Jaw, Saskatoon and Prince Rupert, B.C. with levels comparable to or higher than those of Flint, Michigan during that city’s 2015 lead crisis.

The reporting continues, with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network  (APTN), First Nations University of Canada and Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) joining the Institute for Investigative Journalism. Ryerson School of Journalism’s Karyn Pugliese has joined the collaborative’s circle of advisors, as well as Jamuna Galay-Tamang, currently a fellow at Yale University. Martha Troian is producer.



  • Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism nomination: The “Tainted Water” series (2019)
  • Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) Award - Data Journalism category: “Tainted Water” (2019)
  • Grand Prix Judith-Jasmin, Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec (2019)
  • Atlantic Journalism Award: Enterprise Reporting: Star Halifax and Global News (2019)
  • Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Investigative — Dan McArthur Award: Global News Regina for “Tainted Water” (2019)
  • Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Canada Network Data Storytelling Award: Global News for “Tainted Water” (2019)
  • Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) nomination: Multiplatform — Investigative : Global News Montreal (2019)
  • Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) nomination: Multiplatform — Investigative : Global News Calgary (2019)
  • Emerge Media Award: Best Documentary — University of Regina’s “Drained” (2019)
  • Registered Nurses Association of Ontario: Daily newspaper: Best coverage (2019)
  • Canadian Journalism Foundation nomination: Jackman Award for Excellence (2019)


The Rossy Foundation is the founding supporter of the Institute for Investigative Journalism.

General Inquiries & Media and University Partnerships

The IIJ is a member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network

Global Investigative Journalism Network


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7141 Sherbrooke St. W.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada H4B 1R6

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