Guelph-Eramosa joins collaborative source water protection database

Guelph-Eramosa Township has signed a collaborative agreement for a source water protection database.

At the Dec. 7 meeting, Kyle Davis, risk management officer for Wellington Source Water Protection, appeared before council as a delegation.

He explained the collaboration agreement was between the eight Wellington County municipalities, County of Oxford, City of Guelph Grand River Conservation Authority and Upper Thames River Conservation Authority.

“These 12 parties … met and … started to … collaborate on the design of a database to assist with Clean Water Act reporting requirements,” Davis said.

In his report to council Davis states that “The Clean Water Act (2006) provides the framework for the development and implementation of watershed-based Source Protection Plans [which] identify the risks to municipal drinking water sources and establish actions and policies to protect current and future sources of drinking water.”

By creating a collaborative database municipalities will be able to more easily administer and report on municipal activities associated with the Clean Water Act.

At the beginning of the meeting, Davis announced the Grand River Source Protection Plan was approved on Nov. 26 and will be taking effect July 1, which means municipalities in the Grand River watershed will be required to complete their first annual report surrounding the implementation of the Clean Water Act by Feb. 1, 2017.

An annual report will be required each year by Feb. 1. Under the collaboration agreement it’s the intent that the risk management officer (RMO) will create the report for each municipality or a county-wide report with individual municipality chapters. The report will cover the Clean Water Act reporting whether it’s under the act, regulation or source protection plan, according to Davis.

“The collaboration agreement … is the legal agreement to outline how the database will be used, how the data is structured as … a framework for dealing with privacy concerns and meeting our requirements under MFIPP, Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act,” Davis told council.

“It also outlines how the parties interact with each other, who has access to the data and how that data is managed.”

The design of the database cost Wellington County municipalities $34,250 which breaks down to $4,281 for the individual municipalities.

However, the design and development was approved for provincial funding and was completed with no charge to municipalities.

Moving forward past 2016, municipalities will be responsible to fund data collection and reporting.

It will cost the county between $3,500 and $6,500 annually to run the database, meaning it will cost each municipality between $400 and $800.

“We did look at … building our own about a year and a half ago and we thought this would be a prudent way to go in terms of collaborating with other public (bodies),” Davis said.

The database will be administered through a steering committee and Wellington County would jointly have one representative on the committee.

“Well it makes absolute sense to have collaboration on a database,” Mayor Chris White said.

“This isn’t a decision making body in this context … and I don’t know how you would do this without being in collaboration with anybody anyway, water doesn’t stop at the border.”