Thursday, July 17, 2014


Ecojustice refers to 189 substances regulated in other countries for which Canada has no standards. They then suggest that in 84 instances this may be justified based upon the substances being banned or not in use. To this I say horse manure. Right here in Elmira, Ontario, courtesy of Uniroyal Chemical (Chemtura), we have many of those so called banned and not in use chemicals in our groundwater, thank you very much.

Ecojustice specifically point out 2,4 D and Styrene as problems. Again both are in Elmira's groundwater courtesy of Chemtura. Indeed Styrene was one of the unpublicized industrial chemicals found in Elmira's south wellfield in 1989 by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

Ecojustice also refers to Canada as having no standards for microbiological treatment. By this they are referring to legally binding, across Canada, standards. There are general rules for example here in Waterloo Region (& hopefully elsewhere) that there should be zero E.Coli for example in the final, treated water. The U.S. absolutely demands "advanced filtration" (or equivalent such as UV treatment) of all drinking water, unlike Canada. Allegedly Ontario has a multi barrier approach as advocated by Justice O'Connor after the Walkerton, Ontario drinking water disaster in 2000. Unfortunately right here in Woolwich Township, the village of West Montrose have had highly bacteria contaminated source water for well over a decade. Only now are the Region beginning to address this problem with new source water.

Ecojustice also suggests that some of the drinking water objectives we have are based upon health standards whereas others are based upon economic costs and technological constraints on treatment. Isn't that just lovely?

Canadian standards do not require but only recommend adequate filtration and disinfection of surface water or groundwater influenced by surface water. Seniors deaths occurred here in Waterloo Region twenty years ago exactly due to that failure by the Region of Waterloo. Crytosporidium was not adequately treated or removed until after deaths occurred.

After perusing their data base a few trends have become obvious. Here in Canada our politicians either love farmers or pesticide manufacturers or both. The number of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides without drinking water standards are truly awful. Most people wouldn't recognize most of the chemicals but after twenty-five years of reading their names in Uniroyal/Chemtura reports I know many but not all of them. 2,4 D for example has a Canadian standard of 100 parts per billion (ppb). The U.S. standard is 70 ppb; Australia 30 ppb and the World Health Organization (WHO) is also at 30 ppb.

Common groundwater contaminants here in Elmira and throughout Waterloo Region are on Ecojustice's list. Dichloromethane has a Canadian standard of 50 ppb while the U.S. are at 5 and WHO at 20 ppb. Vinyl chloride found in Elmira and the Bishop St. community in Cambridge has a Canadian standard of 2 ppb while the European Union are at .5 and WHO at .3 ppb. Pentachlorophenol here in Elmira has a 60 ppb standard while the U.S. is 1 and WHO is 9 ppb. Xylene, styrene, carboxin, chlorophenol, trichlorobenzenes, trichloroethane, hexachlorobenzene, silvex and even 1,4 Dioxane have no standards whatsoever. The last one is courtesy of Varnicolor Chemical and Uniroyal and migrated from the Ottawa St. Landfill in Kitchener over to the Greenbrook pumping station necessitating after the fact improvements in their water treatment in order to remove it.

Laws, standards and regulations are routinely ignored and unenforced in this wonderfully corporate controlled country of ours. Nevertheless Ecojustice are correct in that formal standards are the bare minimum to attempt to achieve safer, healthier drinking water. It's easier to ignore industrially contaminated drinking water without legally binding standards than with them. These called for improvements in Canada's regulatory system are decades overdue.

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