Water safety rules on airplanes updated for first time in 60 years

Take note that the updated regulations won’t come into effect until September 23, 2016.
Take note that the updated regulations won’t come into effect until September 23, 2016. (Photo: iStock)

Ever wonder about how clean the water is while you are travelling?

The old Canadian potable water regulations were sixty years old and though they were put in place to protect passengers from contaminated water, the regulations are now outdated. This is worrisome as airplane water hasn’t exactly been known for being hazard free.

Worry no more as the Public Health Agency of Canada has finally updated the existing regulations, known as the Potable Water on Board Trains, Vessels, Aircraft and Buses Regulations. Potable water is water considered safe for drinking.

What do these newly updated regulations require?

The new water sampling requirements, to test the quality and safety of water aboard planes, trains and buses, were updated to require a schedule for water sampling as well as record-keeping requirements, depending on the type of transportation system and depending how often the potable water system is disinfected and flushed.

For instance, sampling in Canadian airplanes has been regulated to occur:

  • Every three months in the absence of routine disinfection;
  • Every six months if disinfection and flushing occurs every four months; or
  • Every twelve months if disinfection and flushing occurs every three months.

But wait! Before you go thinking that these new regulations apply to both Canadian and foreign airlines, we hate to tell you that they don’t really. Foreign-operated carriers are largely exempt from key provisions, though they do have to follow some of the new regulations.

However, they get to bypass the updated sampling and record keeping requirements though they have to ensure that they provide customers with water suitable for human consumption and make sure they prevent water contamination.

Take note though that these updated regulations won’t come into effect until September 23, 2016, which means it’s not going to be in place for summer.

So, until these new regulations are in effect, the best rule to follow is BYOB (bring your own bottle).

Find a Lawyer