Prevention the Focus of New Policies to Protect Municipal Water
Newmarket, ON – July 2, 2015 – New policies to protect municipal drinking water sources came into effect yesterday. The Source Water Protection Plan for the South Georgian Bay Lake Simcoe Source Protection Region (see map) contains policies designed to prevent contaminants from industrial, agricultural and other sources from getting into municipal wells and water supplies.
“It’s partly about making good planning decisions and not allowing certain activities near municipal wellheads where they could potentially threaten the well,” said SPC Chair Lynn Dollin, who is also Deputy Mayor for the Town of Innisfil. “Activities that involve the use of chemicals, solvents, oil or gas, and agricultural operations are just some of the activities that will be impacted,” she added. “They may not be a threat in and of themselves. It will depend on where they are on the landscape and how the activity is being undertaken.”
Landowners impacted by policies in the Source Water Protection Plan may encounter additional questions at municipal planning counters. Some may get a visit from a Risk Management Official that works for the municipality or local conservation agency. Risk Management Officials are responsible for protecting our water supplies and implementing many of the policies in the Source Protection Plan.
Many people will recall the Walkerton tragedy, where seven people died and thousands became ill as a result of drinking contaminated municipal tap water. In the aftermath, the Walkerton Inquiry identified a number of measures to make sure this sort of tragedy would never happen again. Many of the recommendations have already been implemented, including requirements for better testing, training, monitoring and reporting on municipal water supplies. All these measures focus on ensuring contaminated water will not make its way to people, even if it gets into the system.
The Source Water Protection Plan is the last of the Walkerton recommendations to be put in place. It focuses on prevention – taking action to ensure that contaminated water doesn’t get into municipal drinking water supplies in the first place.
Since 2007, the South Georgian Bay Lake Simcoe Source Protection Committee has been developing policies to protect municipal water supplies. This committee includes representatives from industry, municipalities, local citizens and First Nations. The final outcome is the Source Protection Plan, which was approved by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change on January 26, 2015 and took effect on July 1, 2015.
The South Georgian Bay Lake Simcoe Source Protection Region comprises 52 municipalities, from Gravenhurst and parts of Haliburton in the north, to Penetanguishene and Wasaga Beach in the west, down through Shelburne and Orangeville, King Township and Whitchurch Stouffville in the south, and all the way to the City of Kawartha Lakes in the east. The area is also home to three First Nations communities, and contains 273 municipal wells and 16 surface water intakes.
Media contact: Susan Jagminas, Communications Specialist, 905-895-1281 ext 264