RBC commits $1 M to support First Nations water and ecosystems

Via CNW, June 21, 2013

University of Guelph announces $1 million commitment from RBC Blue Water Project to improve water and biodiversity in First Nations communities

GUELPH, ON, June 21, 2013 /CNW/ – The University of Guelph announced today a $1 million commitment from the RBC Blue Water Project to support teaching and research initiatives in water and ecosystem monitoring, as well as treatment and conservation on First Nations reserves.

“Water contamination is one of the most important health-related environmental problems facing First Nations communities,” said president of the University of Guelph, Alastair Summerlee. “These communities also face serious and increasingly complex threats to ecosystem biodiversity. We have the research and teaching expertise and commitment — and now, thanks to RBC, additional resources to make a difference.”

The new education and research initiative includes student field projects to help them learn more about water and biodiversity. The gift was made through the BetterPlanet Project, the University’s $200-million fundraising campaign for teaching and research in food, environment, health and communities.

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LFP: Glencoe-area residents to use hydrogen peroxide as a secondary water treatment

Community will become only the second in North America to use hydrogen peroxide as a secondary water treatment

By Debora Van Brenk, The London Free Press
Thursday, May 16, 2013

Open wide.

Glencoe-area residents will soon be drinking water cleaned with a process similar to the kind used in some dental offices.

The community will become only the second in North America to use a proprietary system called Huwa-San Peroxide Technology as a secondary water treatment, instead of chlorine water disinfection.

The benefits, says Southwest Middlesex Mayor Doug Reycraft, include cleaner, safer and better-tasting water.

“This is new and has the potential to be used in many parts of the province,” Reycraft said. “What happens here is likely to be the prototype for other water systems in other areas of Ontario.”

It’s new here but not completely untried.

This specific technology, developed in Belgium, is used in Europe in hospitals and other closed systems that require ultra-high water quality, said Andy Valickis, engineer and senior project manager with the Ontario Clean Water Agency, which also operates the Southwest Middlesex water treatment facility.

It’s also been in use since November in the small eastern Ontario community of Killaloe, under approval from the Ontario Environment Ministry.

Valickis has high hopes and expectations of the technology.

“It’s a much more natural substance than chlorine is to the body so we think it’s a safer product to use.”

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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.

EPA releases draft National Water Program 2012 Strategy

via @climateandwater Draft EPA “National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change” Released for Public Comment http://1.usa.gov/I8o9LN

EPA’s Draft 2012 Strategy adresses climate change impacts on water resources and EPA’s water programs. Climate change alters the water cycle and could affect the implementation of EPA’s programs. EPA and our state, tribal, local and federal partners must review and adapt the practices that have been developed over the past 40 years since passage of the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and other statutes. Ensuring that EPA’s programs continue to protect public health, and the environment that sustains our communities and the economy, requires immediate and continuous collaboration.

National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change—Public Comment Draft (PDF) (112pp, 3.6MB, About PDF)

How to Comment:

Comments must be received on or before May 17, 2012, 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.


TorStar: Ontario only province to get an ‘A’ for drinking water: Ecojustice report

via: Toronto Star Published Nov 15 2011
Colin Perkel for The Canadian Press

TORONTO—More than a decade after the Walkerton disaster, much of Canada’s tap water remains at risk from contamination despite initial progress in front-line monitoring and treatment, a new report concludes.

In its third such report released Tuesday, the environmental group Ecojustice warns that while some jurisdictions have stepped up water protection efforts in the past five years, most have not done enough.

In 2000, seven people died and 2,500 fell ill in Walkerton, Ont., when the town’s poorly monitored drinking water was contaminated with E. coli from farm runoff.

The tragedy prompted most provinces to review and revamp their drinking water laws with mixed results — but that burst of enthusiasm has faded in recent years, according to the report.

“In many places, the health of Canadians is still at risk,” the report concludes.

“The lack of recent progress also seems to indicate that the impetus for improved water protection, spurred by events like Walkerton, is on the wane.”

The report called “Waterproof 3” finds only Ontario among the provinces worthy of an A grade for its water protection efforts, while Alberta lags with a C-.

The federal government gets an F for a record that continues to worsen, the report states.

In particular, the report criticizes Ottawa for a lack of progress on the legislative front, poor water quality for First Nations, and budget cuts it says will hurt Environment Canada’s ability to monitor the situation.

“The federal government is failing in almost every aspect of water protection, even though it should be setting rigorous standards,” the report says.

For the first time, the report has expanded to include source-water protection efforts — the idea that the best way to provide safe tap water is to ensure the water does not get contaminated in the first place.

The findings are not encouraging.

“Full-fledged source-water protection — a critical first step in achieving safe drinking water systems — has been implemented to some degree in only seven of 13 provinces and territories,” the report states.

“(It) is notably lacking in industry-heavy areas where the risk of contamination is high.”







Read more

For more information, please contact:

Kimberly Shearon, communications coordinator | Ecojustice
604.685.5618 x 242 | 778.988.1530

Sutton Eaves, communications director | Ecojustice

Aboriginal Affairs (INAC): First Nations water supply “at risk”

by Jon Thompson

for Kenora Daily Miner and News, 19 July 2011

More than a third of First Nations communities in the Treaty 3 area have “high risk” drinking water systems, according to a national report released Friday.

The National Assessment of First Nation Water and Waste-water Systems report produced by Neegan Burnside for the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs found 72 communities (45 per cent) of Ontario First Nations to have high risk systems, including 10 high risk systems in Treaty 3. Additionally, 61 Ontario communities have “medium risk,” water treatment, including nine in Treaty 3.

“These deficiencies may lead to potential health and safety or environmental concerns,” the report reads, addressing the high risk systems. “They could also result in water quality advisories against drinking the water (such as, but not limited to, boil water advisories), repetitive non-compliance with guidelines, and inadequate water supplies. Once systems are classified under this category, regions and First Nations must take immediate corrective action to minimize or eliminate deficiencies.”

To bring to protocol would cost $228 million including $36 million alone for the Treaty 3 communities. To upgrade all recommended services, the cost in Treaty 3 is estimated at $113 million.

Twenty-eight wastewater systems in Ontario (38 per cent) were also identified as “high risk,” including five in Treaty 3.

The report comes on the heels of a July 7 funding announcement to launch a $5 million pilot project to improve First Nations drinking water systems.

On a national basis, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada provides about $40 million annually for the operation and maintenance of water and wastewater systems. The report tallies $750 million in spending since 1995.

Its authors call for a national database and regional management strategies to prioritize and upgrade systems, provide training, develop emergency response plans, standardize policies, and make First Nations “aware of their roles and responsibilities to protect community water and wastewater systems.”

Ministry spokeswoman, Gale Mitchell pointed out high risk systems do not necessarily mean water quality issues are imminent. She echoed the report’s assertions that variations in the quality and quantity of source water, increased design requirements, the premature ageing of systems, the lack of water source protection, and inadequate operator training and qualifications are impediments to water quality across the country.

“I think we believe health and safety issues are very important and providing safe water to First Nations is part of that agenda,” she said, pointing to S-11, draft Senate legislation from the fall of 2010 calling for a framework and national standards for First Nations water supplies. “There’s a regulatory gap on reserves. There’s no question about that.”

Issues vary across the region with communities on Lake of the Woods like Northwest Angle 33B and Wauzhushk Onigum (Rat Portage) facing nearby source challenges while Grassy Narrows, for example, is downriver from the Domtar mill in Dryden.

“We need a lot of work to be done,” said Larry Keewatin Jr. of the treatment plant in Grassy Narrows. “We need a sedimentation tank for sure. I think we’d be able to (bring water to code) if we had the proper stuff.”

Operations and maintenance manager at Washagamis Bay, Vernon Copenace had stern words for what he sees as a culture of disrespect for the environment that causes water contamination.

“Quit mining and selling the water. Quit being so greedy. We need that survive. Quit biting the hand that feeds you. Put that in the news and see what they say.”

For an interactive map of water systems in the region, visit http://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=211461320014353099859.0004a85dbdcefae2b5cfe&ie=UTF8&ll=49.385343,-92.907772&spn=2.025342,4.417534

Winnipeg Sun to province: Make sewers election issue

Columnists | Opinion | Winnipeg Sun

MONDAY, JUNE 6, 2011

Over two-million litres of untreated sewage was discharged into the Assiniboine River last month over a five-day period.

It was the largest sewage overflow in Winnipeg since the city’s massive sewage spill in 2002.

That’s on top of 17 smaller spills that occurred this year between March and April.

It’s all due to Winnipeg’s outdated combined sewer system, which diverts raw sewage into our rivers every time it rains, during spring runoff and when pipes get clogged, like they did last month.

Despite that, there was nothing in the Selinger government’s master plan released last week to “save Lake Winnipeg” that deals with the city’s combined sewer problem.

In fact, it doesn’t even mention it.

I don’t get that.

On May 20, the city’s 311 service got an e-mail at 2:11 p.m. that reported a raw sewage discharge into Sturgeon Creek near Lonsdale Drive just west of Grace General Hospital.

Unfortunately, the 311 system broke down and raw sewage poured into the creek and river for nearly five days without the city responding to it. You might want to look into this one, Sam.

The wastewater collection branch wasn’t notified until Wednesday May 25 — following a long-weekend — and a crew was eventually dispatched that day.

They found a blockage of grease and rags in the sewer that caused raw sewage to build up and overflow into the creek.

It was a major screw-up — and a lot crap that went into our rivers and lakes.

“Lag time between notification and resolution due to oversight in internal protocol,” the city’s incident report says. “Response process reviewed and will be improved for future similar events.”

Let’s hope so.

But better than that, why doesn’t the provincial government take the lead on this and sit down with the city to hammer out a funding deal that would fix this problem over time?

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