Province seeks comment on water protection

The On­ta­rio Ministry of the Envi­ron­ment wants public comment on the next phase of its program to protect sources of municipal drinking water.

The ministry has released a discussion paper outlining various policy approaches for re­ducing risks that will make up local Drinking Water Source Protection Plans. It also suggests  how plans should be de­vel­oped. The paper is posted on the environ­mental registry at www.ebr.­gov.­on.­ca for comment. The deadline is Sept. 23.

The plans are set to be completed by 2012.

The purpose of the discus­sion paper is to seek feedback from the public, stakeholders, communities, and First Nations on the proposed content of the regulations, including the po­ten­tial policy approaches to be used by the Lake Erie region source protection committee. That committee is overseeing the creation of a source protection plan for the Grand River watershed.

Such plans will spell out what steps need to be taken to protect the sources of muni­ci­pal drinking water supplies from contamination or over use. In the Grand River water­shed there are three types of source waters: wells tapping into groundwater, the Grand and Eramosa Rivers, and Lake Erie.

The Lake Erie region source protection committee is made up of representatives of municipalities, farmers, busi­nesses, First Nations and resi­dents.

Much of the technical work needed to develop the plan is being directed by municipalities and conserva­tion authorities. The Lake Erie Region includes four water­sheds: Grand River, Long Point Region, Catfish Creek, and Kettle Creek.

Work is now being done to identify potential threats to water supplies and to analyze the vulnerability of water sour­ces such as wells and surface water intakes.

Those studies will be collected into assess­ment reports for each water­shed and are scheduled to be completed in mid-2010.

After that report is com­plete, the source protection committee will turn its attention to drafting the source protection plans. More infor­ma­tion is at www.source­