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.sourcewater.ca.