Source Protection Planning Begins

May 11, 2011
News Release: For Immediate Release

Drinking water source protection is taking its next major step forward in the South Georgian Bay Lake Simcoe Source Protection Region. The source protection committee (SPC) for the region has announced it is beginning to prepare source protection plan policies.

“This is an important time for the protection of drinking water in this region as the members of the committee will begin to tackle the challenge of creating policies to reduce risk to drinking water,” said Lynn Dollin, Chair of the South Georgian Bay Lake Simcoe Source Protection Committee.

The local committee is sending formal Notice of Commencement of Source Protection Plan Policy Preparation to municipal administrators, First Nations, and to owners of properties where potential significant drinking water threats exist. The committee is also informing those landowners of opportunities for financial assistance for their voluntary projects to protect water, and of opportunities to provide comments as plans are developed over the coming year.

Significant drinking water threats can exist in the 100-metre radius of a municipal drinking water source, in the most vulnerable parts of the two-year time-of-travel area around the municipal well, and (in the case of chemicals called dense non-aqueous phase liquids) in the five-year time-of-travel area around the well. Significant threats can also exist around a surface water intake.

Reference to drinking water threats does not suggest there is an immediate risk to drinking water on a landowner’s property, according to the committee. The word threat in this case indicates one of 21 land use activities (such as a septic system or home heating oil) that has the potential, in certain circumstances, to pose a risk to municipal drinking water sources, if not properly managed. The threats on parts of properties close to municipal wells have been included in proposed assessment reports.

The committee can address risks to drinking water supplies using tools such as education and outreach, financial incentives, land use planning changes, monitoring, and provincial prescribed instruments. The committee may also require risk management plans in certain cases or prohibit some future land use activities, if the members feels those actions are necessary to protect the community’s drinking water supply.

Landowners can take positive action now to protect drinking water and may receive grants to cover the majority of the cost of their voluntary projects, through the Ontario Drinking Water Stewardship Early Response Program. Eligible projects may include well decommissioning and upgrades, septic system upgrades, runoff and erosion protection, best management practices, fuel and chemical storage containment.

Media contact: Susan Jagminas, Communications Specialist, 905-895-1281 ext 264