Asvisory of the Day
PROVINCIAL, ON: IS ONTARIO DOING ENOUGH TO REGULATE NON-MUNICIPAL WATER?
This story is brought to you in part by Waterloo Biofilter Systems
For a follow up to yesterday's story on Toronto's private water systems, this reporter opted to dig into some data sets to see what the province is doing to ensure clean drinking water in these non-municipal set ups
Ontario's Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) is responsible for regulating non-municipal drinking water systems. These can include residential systems for condos, townhouses, apartments etc. as well as designated facilities that provide water to people more at risk. For instance: schools, day care facilities, hospitals, old age homes etc
The MOECC set the standards, guidelines and passes legislature like the Safe Drinking Water Act of 2002. This was in response to the Walkerton Tragedy of 2000, an E-coli outbreak in a small south-western Ontario town that resulted in 7 dead and thousands taken ill. As a result of the act, all municipal and private water systems must obtain approval from the Director of the Ministry of Environment in order to operate. Those who run the systems must be trained and certified to provincial standards. Testing is also covered in the act, with legally binding standards for contaminants in drinking water as well as the mandatory use of specific accredited labs for drinking water testing. Attempts to find out the testing process from these labs were unsuccessful as of publication but will be followed up on
According to the province of Ontario's open data catalogue, MOECC made only two drinking water convictions in the time period from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016 . The first concerned an individual working for Kerry's Place, a company that runs residential autism programs, for failing to report that improperly disinfected water had been directed to users of a drinking water system. They were ordered to pay a fine of $2,500. The second was levied against an individual working for Carriage House Retirement who was convicted for failing to ensure compliance with a drinking water system's maintenance schedule included in the Engineer's report for the system and for failing to ensure that the system is operated by trained person. In this case the charge was $3,500
For the most populous province in Canada, there were two drinking water convictions over a one year period. When the same data catalogue was consulted, it shows that 218 sites were inspected by the MOECC, 217 of which were announced in advance, leaving one which was unexpected. Out of those inspections, 166 were on schools, daycares and nurseries. In addition to the inspections, 113 compliance audits were carried out. Requests for the MOECC to clarify their inspection process to this reporter have remained unanswered.
More info is expected in the coming days.
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