“In 1999, the department spent over $5 million and brought in the EIMAS system, and it was when we got a bad report from the auditor general too,” says Curtis-Steele. “The department’s excuse to why it didn’t do follow-ups on highly contaminated sites was it didn’t have a good tracking system.”

She recalls most of the recent upgrades are also multi-million dollar projects. That’s more than 20 per cent of the department’s total expenses for the last fiscal year.

The current AMANDA 6 system was also adapted a few months after the auditor general’s report in May.

MacKinnon says the new system got rid of many bugs of the old system and it saves data online, instead of on the computer – same idea as how Google Drive works.

However, Curtis-Steele says despite the new functions brought by numerous upgrades, audits are still not done.

“The only way it wouldn’t be done (for ten years), is if someone didn’t schedule the first audit,” she says.

She explains when a new public drinking water registration comes in through the department’s computer tracking system, the inspector has to manually schedule the first audit in three years, which is like setting up a profile for the facility in the system.

“If I don’t do anything with that item, it’ll sit on my task list until it’s done,” says Curtis-Steele.

Older versions of the tracking system didn’t have the function of raising red flags on overdue tasks. But thanks to the new AMANDA 6 system that went online last summer, managers can get a printout of the unfinished tasks and ask inspectors to clean them up.

MacKinnon says she can either go into an inspector’s task list to see unfinished audits or get a list of those audits from the system every month.

But Curtis-Steele believes it’s better management and work ethics that will help reduce the number of late or unfinished audits.

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This story is part of the 'Tap water in N.S. restaurants and houses equally monitored?' series.
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