Thursday, July 31, 2014


Following is an e-mail I sent this morning trying to get Woolwich Council directly involved as a group in not allowing the Region of Waterloo and Ontario M.O.E. to pull off yet another public relations scam directly affecting residents drinking water.

Region & M.O.E. response to West Montrose water contamination
To and 11 more

I am sending this to Council because it's your duty to understand this and rise above a laid back reliance upon the Region & M.O.E. to be protecting Woolwich's water. I am sending it to CPAC & SWAT because there has been and still is a decades long campaign to undermine my environmental credibility by Chemtura, the M.O.E. and at least one Woolwich Councillor who's gone so far as to brag in Council about kicking me off of CPAC. I am sending it to the media because of my lack of confidence in the political process being capable of doing the right thing without some incentive.

I have in front of me the Region's Annual (Drinking Water) Reports for the last decade (2004-2013) for West Montrose. They are an unmitigated disaster including Boil Water Advisory's in 2004, 2005 and 2008. The ongoing problems are "Adverse Incidents" as stipulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act and by Ont.Reg. 170/03. These, while not marked on the Annual Reports as Adverse Incidents, are all on page three and are marked as " accordance with subsection 18(1) Safe Drinking Water Act or section 16-4 of O.Reg. 170/03".

These serious problems are primarily related to too much chlorine, too little chlorine, too much chloramine (ie. total chlorine or combined chlorine), too little chloramine, Turbidity (cloudiness/murkiness), and too little CT or Contact Time. The Ministry of Environment have just sent a letter suggesting that they are going to remove the requirement that the Region report allegedly "short term analyser spikes" for chloramine exceedances as an Adverse Incident. The inference is that these are an in process, unnecessary requirement that apparently one lay citizen (yours truly) has discovered and pointed out to everyone's embarassment. That does not make sense. From 2004 until 2010 chloramine exceedances ( > 3.0 mg/l) were corrected by the Region sometimes resampling alone and many times resampling and flushing the water mains. There was zero mention or suggestion of "...on-line analyser spikes". Suddenly in the 2011 Annual Reports we have the claim that many but not all of these health related exceedances are "short term on-line analyser spikes". Again since then, when these alleged "...spikes" have occurred the "Corrective Action" on page three of the Annual Report is sometimes resampling alone and many times resampling and flushing of the mains. Why would the Region on an ongoing basis be flushing mains for nothing more than faulty readings or paperwork issues? Why would they and the M.O.E. insist that there is a health related standard for chloramines, report those readings for years and take corrective action for years and then suddenly decide when questioned about it, to drop the reporting requirement?

Chloramines are a serious health hazard as are the other issues relating to Turbidity which impedes proper disinfection and free chlorine levels as well. The Region's answers to my three pages of questions are evasive and in many instances simply don't answer the question. I sat down with two Councillors and gave them a brief overview back in early April. Councillor Bauman requested from me a list of technical questions that the township could give to the Region for their responses. This request was based upon the simple fact that neither the Council nor respectfully the staff have the knowledge or expertise to fully understand the issues. Your staff may be experts in their field, such as planning/engineering but they fairly clearly are not so regarding either industrial or microbiological drinking water issues. Similarily I am highly skeptical that any Councillors or staff can competently on their own, interpret accurately the Region's responses to my questions.

So Council can pretend confidence in the Region & M.O.E. who are as usual backing each other up. This despite Council's own committee (CPAC) who are with Council and CAO Brenneman currently in the process of formallly attacking the M.O.E. for their failure to enforce the Environmental Protection Act here in Elmira, on another front. Or Council can roll up their sleeves, sit down as an entire group and learn, ask questions and most importantly understand that the health of West Montrose residents has been put at risk for many years due to the raw water source in their town. The Region are belatedly going to bring in a different water supply but meanwhile they and the M.O.E. are in full spin control and crisis mode. Their failures if once again swept under the rug will only ensure more health problems for Woolwich and Region of Waterloo residents down the road.

Al Marshall SWAT member and Elmira EH-Team member
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