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Minister of Environment learns first hand about Well Aware program

WELLINGTON CTY. - Ontario Minister of Environment John Wilkinson, met with representatives of the Elora Environment Centre, the Ontario Ground Water Association, municipalities and  Green Communities Canada (GCC) July 27 to get a first-hand look at how a provincially funded Well Aware program helps protect drinking water and groundwater resources. 

Well Aware manager Heather Kirby, of Green Communities Canada, said, “Well Aware is a unique program that makes certain that well owners across the province are receiving the same information. Owning a well can be daunting and the Well Aware program helps to eliminate the unknowns and provides the tools to care for your well properly.”

The program’s trained representatives do visits, known as guided self-assessments,  with well owners to help them learn how to manage their wells. The visits are voluntary, non-regulatory, and confidential.

The program was developed to meet a need for consistent, reliable information about caring for private wells.

Homeowners who receive poor results from well-water tests contact Well Aware to learn how they can improve their water. Property owners new to living with a well can also contact it to learn how to protect and conserve their water supply from day one.

Green Communities Canada chairman Mary Jane Patterson said, “Newly transplanted urban residents to rural life benefit greatly from the education and hands-on assistance the program offers. Equipping new rural residents with the tools necessary to properly care for their wells and septic systems goes a long way to removing the barriers to their success.”

On each Wellington area visit, an advisor, the local Well Aware representative, asks questions to determine how the well is being managed. Afterwards the advisor provides information and contacts that will help a homeowner follow up on recommendations made during the visit.

Recommendations typically include well upgrades to meet current safety standards, removing potential contaminants from the well’s area, testing the water regularly, and pumping septic tanks.

Wilkinson said, “My ministry has committed $3-million to the Well Aware program over the past 10 years and it has been a beneficial and fiscally responsible use of the funds. I’m proud to see first-hand that Well Aware, is helping well owners across the province get the information they need to protect their drinking water.”

Well Aware is the first large-scale, private well stewardship program in Canada. It won the 2009 Sustainable Community award for water, awarded by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.  

Barry Trood, Manager Public Works for Wellington North Township, said, “It was an honour for the township to win the Sustainability award in 2009. Our community has been very fortunate to benefit from the stewardship of the Well Aware program.”

Besides well visits, Well Aware offers a booklet, operates a website, and has developed useful fact sheets. 

Well Aware is delivered in Wellington County by the Elora Environment Centre, the local GCC member organization, and in 22 other Ontario upper tier municipalities by 14 GCC member organizations.

Lynda Bausinger, project manager of the Well Aware program at the Elora Environment Centre, is pleased with the results achieved since the program’s inception in 2001.

“Well Aware is succeeding in its goal of assisting rural well owners to connect the dots between their backyard behaviourisms and the health of their family’s drinking water. Well Aware is one of the signature programs of the Elora Environment Centre, and truly affords us the privilege of connecting our community.

Anyone interested in a home visit, can contact Bausinger at the Elora Environment Centre at 519-369-2626 or 519-846-0841 or by visiting www.eloraenvironmentcentre.ca.

 

 

August 12, 2011

 
 

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