In Canada, the provinces have primary responsibility for water management, including drinking water management; the federal government has comparatively more limited water-related responsibilities. Currently, Canada does not have a harmonized federal drinking water strategy or law (although it does have non-binding guidelines); thus provinces have developed different approaches to drinking water management. In this study, key features of the current regulatory frameworks for microbial testing in drinking water quality management are examined in Canada’s three most populous provinces – British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Salient regulatory features including the types of drinking water samples, water quality standards, testing frequency and system size are described and compared. Distinct differences were found in provincial approaches to drinking water quality assessment, and microbial water quality management is
variable not only among, but also within, provinces. This finding of inter- and intra-province variability in drinking water quality management shows that these three provinces are approaching similar challenges in different ways. In turn, these different approaches demonstrate that regulatory frameworks can be adapted in response to drinking water management challenges. Regulatory frameworks should be flexible and adaptable to new knowledge and scientific developments, such as molecular testing methods, in order to facilitate their translation into water management tools.