Monday, March 31, 2014


I propose that we rename our Ontario Ministry of the Environment the "LETS MAKE A DEAL" Ministry. For the last twenty-four years I have seen them bend over backwards to deny, minimize and defuse all environmental issues that arise. Note defuse does not equal resolve or remedy. Whether it be Varnicolor Chemical, Uniroyal/Chemtura, Canadian General Tower, Ciba-Geigy or Northstar their modus operandi is always consistent. Now I am beginning to see similar behaviour in their "enforcement" of drinking water rules and regulations. Of late I have been examining the Safe Drinking Water Act (2002) and Ontarion Regulation 170/03. This legislation and accompanying regulations are supposed to keep our drinking water safe but once again I am seeing way too much subjectivity in their application and enforcement. Apparently chloramines above the Ontario Drinking Water Standard (3 mg/l) are not black and white. Or at least the Region of Waterloo don't think they should be. Similarily with Turbidity in our drinking water. The literature I have read states that particles in the finshed water can too easily prevent proper disnfection as pathogens (bacteria, viruses) can attach themselves to the particles and not be destroyed. The Turbidity standard ranges from .1 NTU (nephelometric turbidity units) to 1.0 NTU depending on the type of filtration. Once again these standards seem to be totally flexible and open to discussion with the M.O.E..

Each year the Region of Waterloo produce two reports namely an Annual Drinking Water Report and a Summary Report which goes to Regional Council. Adverse water quality incidences which must be reported by legislation do not seem to get from the Annual Reports into the Summary Reports in their entirety. Therefore municipal councils or anyone else reading the Summary Reports are not getting the full picture.

I was advised yesterday that the Region of Waterloo are again sending the water tankers into West Montrose to fill up their reservoir. On the one hand this is comforting in that this time of year is exactly when groundwater levels rise and bacteria are mobilized, especially in shallow wells such as those in West Montrose. As soon as the tankers stop however the residents are back on contaminated source water which is contrary to the recommendations of the O'Connor Inquiry into the Walkerton tragedy.

West Montrose have had reportable issues with Trihalomethanes, a lack of free chlorine, contact time of chlorine residuals, turbidity and chloramines for many years. Based on inadequate Annual Reports we do not know whether there are Haloacetic Acids, NDMA or other contaminants in the treated water. These problems are not being resolved over time which is why the Region have belatedly decided to do the right thing which is bring in a new source of raw water to the community. I am also skeptical of their claims that deep drilled wells are not a viable option. Presumably all the local area farms have been on drilled wells for decades.

It is now 10:05 am. Monday March 31, 2014. We did not get the volume of rain forecast for this weekend which is good for the short term water quality in the shallow West Montrose wells. Rain is forcast for tomorrow however. Will the tankers keep on running and what is the source of that water? Is it equally contaminated with high chloramines or are there different issues? Meanwhile I still await Woolwich Township's sit down discussions with me concerning West Montrose's water. Are the staff simply too busy or is it a case of plausible deniability? Last week I referred to crunch time for the Township. Stalling in order to pretend that you didn't know isn't leadership, it's avoidance. Are the Township in backroom discussions with the Region (hence the water tankers) or are they burying their heads in the sand and hoping everything goes O.K.? As usual citizens are the last to know what is going on but the first to be at risk.

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