Personal liability for water treatment plants in effect in Ontario

Via Canadian Consulting Engineer, 2013-01-07

New rules came into effect in Ontario on December 31 that make those with decision-making authority over drinking water systems personally liable for their safe operation.

This “Statutory Standard of Care” came into force as Section 19, part of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The decision-making authorities — which include municipal councillors as well as their third-party contractors — have to ensure that their plant is operated in accordance with regulations, is appropriately staffed and supervised, and that it meets all the sampling, testing and reporting requirements.

In a guide for municipal councillors: “Taking Care of Your Drinking Water,” the Ontario Ministry of the Environment points out that municipal councillors are still personally liable for their water systems, “even if there is an agreement to delegate the operations of the drinking water system to someone else” (page 7).

The guide points out that those with decision-making authority over municipal drinking water systems have “to exercise the level of care, diligence and skill … that a reasonably prudent person would be expected to exercise in a similar situation and that they exercise this due diligence honestly, competently and with integrity.”

The guide says the legal responsibility applies to not only the municipality who owns the system, but “every person who oversees the accredited operating authority or exercises decision-making authority over the system — potentially including but not limited to members of municipal councils. If the municipal system is owned by a corporation rather than a municipality, every officer and director of the corporation has the legal responsibility to ensure the plant is performing up to par.

The Ministry is advising municipal councillors to “be informed, ask questions, get answers.” Training courses for municipal officers are available at the Walkerton Clean Water Centre.

To see the guide, click here.


Winnipeg Free Press: Canada-U.S. group turns off tap

By: Bartley Kives and Jen Skerritt

Posted: 12/11/2012

A Canada-U.S. commission has put a plug in Winnipeg’s plan to sell water to neighbouring municipalities, emboldening First Nations already opposed to the idea.

The City of Winnipeg announced Monday it has put off a plan to extend water pipes into the rural municipalities of Rosser and West St. Paul. Council approved the idea in 2011 as part of proposed service-sharing deals that would also see the city treat its neighbours’ sewage.

The city turned off the tap after receiving a letter from the International Joint Commission (IJC), a Canada-U.S. body that prevents and resolves cross-border water disputes. A report to council said the IJC has undisclosed “issues” with the city’s plan.

Winnipeg chief operating officer Deepak Joshi said the IJC wants to know whether the city’s service-sharing plans comply with a 98-year-old agreement governing the watershed.

“They wanted to get a better understanding that we are still within the order from 1914,” said Joshi, who declined to share a copy of the letter.

IJC officials could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this year, two Ontario First Nations situated along Shoal Lake, the source of Winnipeg’s drinking water, launched a court challenge against the city’s move. Iskatewizaagegan No. 39 First Nation and Shoal Lake No. 40 argue Winnipeg must but did not obtain their consent.

Shoal Lake 40 Chief Erwin Redsky said the international body’s letter supports the First Nations’ position that Winnipeg does not have the legal authority to move ahead with plans to extend water pipes beyond its borders.

Redsky said his community’s land is directly affected by the water sale and the First Nation may file a separate application to the IJC.

“Like I’ve said many times, I would rather negotiate than go through the courts,” he said.

Most of Shoal Lake is in Ontario, except for the western half of Indian Bay, which is in Manitoba. Winnipeg gets its water from Indian Bay through a 155-kilometre aqueduct completed in 1918.

Ontario and Ottawa gave Winnipeg permission to draw water from Shoal Lake in 1913, while the IJC followed suit in 1914. Shoal Lake 40 has land near the aqueduct intake; Iskatewizaagegan No. 39 is farther east.

In spring, Winnipeg chief administrative officer Phil Sheegl said he wasn’t concerned with the lawsuit from the two communities.

“We’ve done our due diligence and we feel comfortable with our position,” the CAO said then.

The city’s decision to hold off on extending water pipes into Rosser has complicated efforts to finalize a deal to extend water and sewer services to 405 hectares of industrial land set aside for CentrePort Canada, an international trade hub under development near Richardson International Airport. While some businesses that have purchased CentrePort land have dug wells to ensure they can fight fires, other companies have held off until the RM secures a deal with Winnipeg.

CentrePort officials were not aware of the city’s move to delay water services, but they are familiar with the issues involving Shoal Lake and will wait and see what council decides, said marketing and communications director Riva Harrison.

“Not having water servicing at CentrePort would be a problem for us, and I imagine our board would need to discuss the implication of that, should council go that way,” Harrison said.

The city is proceeding with plans to extend sewage-treatment pipes to both Rosser and West St. Paul. The city has the capacity to treat more sewage and more water, Joshi said.

The city is also considering a plan to provide municipal garbage and sewage-disposal services to Shoal Lake 40, whose landfill closed earlier this year. The move will alleviate environmental concerns along Indian Bay, Joshi said.

The city may provide Shoal Lake 40 with Dumpsters, which could then be taken to Winnipeg for disposal along the Greater Winnipeg Water District Railroad. Since the First Nation does not have year-round road access, it would require a barge or a revamp of the band’s existing ferry.

Redsky said the city has helped find a temporary solution for his community’s waste issues.

“We are very pleased, but the ultimate responsibility lies with the federal government,” he said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 11, 2012 B1

Water Canada: Water Quality Forecasting for Better Infrastructure Spending

Via: Water Canada, Posted on October 1, 2012
Written by Greg Rose and Tim Webster

Water resource conflicts are becoming increasingly prevalent as the intensity of competing uses of nearshore environments increases. Given the complexity of environmental systems, successfully managing and cost-effectively addressing these conflicts can be challenging. To address such challenges, a five-partner collaboration, comprising Golder Associates, Esri Canada, the Applied Geomatics Research Group, Scotia Weather Services and GeoNet, is developing and testing a water quality forecasting and infrastructure optimization system piloted in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Basin.

Funded by the Atlantic Innovation Fund of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the research project leverages geospatial technology for advanced mapping and analysis of various factors affecting water quality. When completed, the system will allow municipalities in the basin to focus their infrastructure investment strategies to maximize environmental returns and allow shellfish harvesting to be planned in a way that maximizes existing resources.

The issue

Shellfish harvesting is a key part of the economy of the Annapolis Basin, an arm of the Bay of Fundy in eastern Canada. For the region’s famed Digby clams and other seafood to be marketable, the water from which they are harvested must be sufficiently clean. This can be a challenge given the area’s proximity to sources of potential contamination, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), watershed runoff, and concentrated deposits of fecal matter from seabirds and seals, as well as high tidal flows that can carry contaminants far from the source and render the harvest from some of the basin’s shellfish growing areas (SGAs) temporarily unsafe.

While current legislative controls in Canada, administered via the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP), provide the necessary checks and balances for protecting human health, their application is relatively labour intensive and expensive. Understandably, the current protocols are geared to exercising precaution. This often leads to closures of growing areas, in cases where these have the potential to yield high-quality harvests under optimal environmental conditions. Conversely, where shellfish harvested from non-prohibited areas are identified as contaminated during the testing process, the harvest is inevitably worthless unless it can be purified cost-effectively.

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Massive project in Timmins called the biggest one the city has ever taken on

Massive project
$60M upgrade of treatment plant
By Ron Grech, The Daily Press

City officials call it the biggest single project Timmins has ever taken on.

The upgrade to the Mattagami Waste Water Treatment Plant will cost $60-million which is unprecedented for a municipal project in Timmins.

City residents will likely begin seeing the first signs of work being done on Airport Road, across from the Bozzer baseball diamonds in the early fall.

Construction on the site is expected to take more than two years.

“I hope by September and October to see equipment on site and excavation to start,” said Luc Duval, director of public works and engineering. “And then from that point onwards, depending on the season and the weather there will be activity on that site.”

The upgrades to the plant were made mandatory in the wake of the Walkerton tragedy in May 2000 in which seven people died and more than 2,000 others became ill from drinking E. coli contaminated municipal water.

The cost of this provincially mandated project is being divided three ways by the municipal, provincial and federal governments.

“It all fits in our capital investments for sewer and water” budgeted over the next decade, explained Duval.

“We’ve talked about how that plant is going to be upgraded to secondary treatment. We’re in the final stretches of awarding a construction contract for that project. The City of Timmins received tenders (two weeks ago) so we’re in the process of reviewing the tenders and reviewing the amounts and then eventually making a recommendation to council.”

Duval anticipated that recommendation will come to council within two to four weeks.

“Once we award that contract, assuming we award it in August some time, we should start to see activities on that site in September,” he said.

“The chunk of land we got vacant today will be filled with infrastructure in two-and-a-half years from now. So there will be new buildings, a lot of processing tanks where we’re going to be aerating the treated effluent as it comes through the secondary process… There are a lot of new processes being introduced as well and all to better treat the sewage and be better stewards of the environment.

Draft of Mississippi-Rideau Drinking Water Source Protection Plan released

From the website:

The Mississippi Valley Conservation and Rideau Valley Conservation Authority have developed draft policies to help keep contaminants out of rivers and groundwater where they are a source of municipal drinking water. Such preventative measures will help make municipal drinking water even safer. Review the draft policies and submit comments by May 4, 2012.

Policies can be found in the draft Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Plan. This Plan contains a series of voluntary and mandatory policies that encourage good stewardship, require additional oversight or risk reduction measures where necessary and prohibit certain activities from being established in the future. Funding is also available until December 1, 2012 to help property owners proactively address activities on their property that may be subject to these policies in the future.

View the Draft Plan:

Online at

At our Conservation Authority Offices:
Mississippi Valley Conservation – 4175 Highway 511, Lanark
Rideau Valley Conservation Authority – 3889 Rideau Valley Dr, Manotick

At our open houses (details below)
Request a DVD copy (contact information below)

Attend an Open House (all open houses are 4 pm to 8 pm)

April 19 – Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (3889 Rideau Valley Drive, Manotick)
April 24 – Carleton Place Arena (75 Neelin Street, Carleton Place)
April 26 – Smiths Falls Memorial Centre (75 Cornelia Street, Smiths Falls)

 Where Policies Would Apply

There are 11 locations in the Mississippi-Rideau region where rivers or groundwater are a source of municipal drinking water – these are the areas where policies will apply and funding is available:

•         Almonte
•         Carleton Place
•         Carp
•         Kemptville
•         Merrickville
•         Munster
•         Perth
•         Richmond
•         Smiths Falls
•         Urban Ottawa
•         Westport

 What Activities Policies Would Address

The following types of activities could be subject to policies in the areas listed above. These are activities that must be carefully managed near sources of drinking water to prevent contamination.

•         Waste disposal sites
•         Municipal sewage works
•         Septic systems
•         Pesticides
•         Commercial fertilizer
•         Nutrients (manure, biosolids, livestock)
•         Heating oil (furnace tanks)
•         Liquid fuel (gas stations, yard tanks)
•         Road salt and snow storage
•         Chemicals (DNAPLs and organic solvents)

More information:     Sommer Casgrain-Robertson,
Co-Project Manager, Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Region

613-692-3571 or 1-800-267-3504 ext 1147

CBC: Sewage used as fertilizer sparks B.C. blockade

Protesters set up blockade to stop trucks carrying biosolid fertilizer
CBC News, Feb 22, 2012

A group of concerned residents in the Salmon Valley, near Prince George, is refusing to let a local farmer spread treated stabilized human sewage on his fields.

The residents are blocking city dump trucks carrying biosolids from driving down a frozen gravel road to the farmer’s property, where the sewage will be stored and then spread on his fields in May or June.

“That’s the last thing we want to do is stand there and stop a trucker from making money, but we have to live out here,” said protester Linda Parker. “We have not got a choice, we are being told it’s going to come through, or you’re going to jail!”

‘The regulations and their own material says there is potential for water contamination from biosolids.’—Protester Andy Angele

Parker and others are concerned about water contamination and smell.

“I need to know, is it going to seep into the waterways, is it going to be harmful for the environment out here? There’s no tests that have been brought to us. We were not brought documents stating ‘this is what it does, this is what it’s for,’ ” said Parker.

Tuesday morning RCMP officers told the residents to dismantle their blockade, and Prince George city officials told residents their concerns would be addressed at a city meeting that afternoon.

But afterwards, Parker said, she and others still weren’t satisfied.

“They have not said anything to us, they will not give us answers,” said Parker.

Andy Angele says residents plan to keep blocking the dump trucks until an independent review is held, looking at the effects of spreading stabilized human sewage on agricultural land.

“The regulations and their own material says there is potential for water contamination from biosolids. They said more than 20 or 30 times in the regulation that there is potential for biosolid problems.”

The City of Prince George maintains the use of biosolids on farms is safe, and will continue to work with the concerned residents.

OBJ: US Clean-tech Firm Opens Ottawa Office

An American water treatment technology firm says it plans to establish its Canadian presence by opening an Ottawa office and hiring 18 employees over the next three years.

via: Ottawa Business Journal, February 1, 2012

The local office of Koester Environmental Ltd. will be headed by Kevin Bloodworth, who was previously CEO of Ottawa-based Upcom.

“Our goal within 36 months is to expand beyond our environmental technology sales, maintenance and operation services,” Mr. Bloodworth stated.

The New York State-based firm plans to add original equipment manufacturing services to its offering.

Koester represents more than 30 manufacturers of water and wastewater treatment equipment, and handles their marketing, sales, service and maintenance in Ontario, New York and New Jersey.

The company has clients in several sectors, including first nation communities, oil and gas, mining and municipal government. Its business model takes a client from a product’s design, to systems installation and ongoing maintenance.

Before opening its Ottawa location, the company worked in Canada on a contractual basis. The company has been named a finalist for a 2012 Bootstrap Award by local business incubator Exploriem.