New representative from environmental sector to join Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Drinking Water Source Protection Committee (SPC)
A committee to protect local municipal drinking water sources has announced that Jennette Walker is the newest member. The Zurich woman was selected as a representative of the Environment sector on the Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Source Protection Committee (SPC). The Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Source Protection Region accepted applications for a vacant Environment seat between August 15, 2017 and September 25, 2017 and the source protection authorities made the selection after a review of candidacies through a competitive competition.
“We are very pleased to have the local knowledge, environmental and scientific knowledge, experience, and expertise that Jennette brings to the committee table,” said Matt Pearson, Chairman of the Source Protection Committee.
“Jennette’s extensive skill set will be a great asset to the work of the committee,” said Geoffrey Cade, Program Supervisor with the Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Source Protection Region.
The newest committee member brings a wealth of experience in the environmental field. She is a Senior Technical Specialist in Listowel with GM BluePlan Engineering Ltd. where she conducts site inspections for street reconstruction and treatment plant upgrades as well as assisting in the preparation of project proposals, tender documents, and project research. Her extensive professional experience includes previous work at B. M. Ross and Associates Ltd., the Town of Goderich, and the Municipality of Bluewater.
The new committee member brings familiarity with both the Maitland Valley and Ausable Bayfield watersheds and the communities within them. She also brings knowledge of water and wastewater systems and regulations and legislation. Walker is Vice Chair of the Huron Stewardship Council. She is a past member of the Huron County Water Protection Steering Committee and Maitland Conservation’s Water Action Team. She has also been a member of a municipal working group for local drinking water source protection and the community working group that developed a Conservation Strategy for Ausable Bayfield watersheds. She has experience working on technical reports, water budgets, groundwater studies, and delineation of wellhead protection areas and intake protection zones. “I am very pleased and honoured to be selected as the newest member of the committee,” said Walker. “I am looking forward to working with all the committee members to guide the implementation of local plans that are adding protection to municipal sources of drinking water. I have a keen interest in finding practical and effective ways to protect the water resources upon which we rely.”
The make-up of the SPC is shaped by the source protection committee regulation (Ontario Regulation 288/07) and by a local process that took place to decide how to include diverse voices at the committee table. One third of the committee is from municipalities. One third (five members) comes from economic sectors. Locally, three of those five economic member seats are from agriculture and the other two are from industry and commerce (including tourism). The other third of the committee represents Other – Environmental, Health, and other interests of the public (including property owner association representation; public representatives from each of the two source protection areas; and two environmental sector representatives). “The diverse voices at the table help the committee to find practical and effective ways to keep our local drinking water safe and clean, starting at the source,” said SPC Chair Matt Pearson. “We have a talented group of people to help us as we implement, monitor, and update policies that reduce risk to municipal drinking water in this region.”
The Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Drinking Water Source Protection Committee is a 15-member committee in addition to the Chair. The committee was Ontario’s first SPC. The members have worked with the public since 2007 to create local terms of reference, assessment reports, and source protection plans. This work is made possible by the Ontario Clean Water Act, 2006.
The Province of Ontario approved the locally developed source protection plans on January 19, 2015. The plans took effect on April 1, 2015. Plan policies address 21 activities (such as fuel or chemical storage; among others) that can pose a significant threat to municipal drinking water sources in certain circumstances (for example, in certain quantities and in the most vulnerable locations such as municipal wellhead protection areas). The local source protection authorities are currently conducting public consultation on proposed amendments to the assessment reports and source protection plans.
There are four types of vulnerable areas. They are wellhead protection areas (zones of protection around municipal wells, to protect groundwater); surface water intake protection zones (in this region, around Lake Huron intakes); significant groundwater recharge areas; and highly vulnerable aquifers. Activities in vulnerable areas are assessed as low, moderate or significant threats to municipal drinking water sources. In this region, significant threats to drinking water are only found in wellhead protection area zones A, B, and C. Plan policies in those relatively small areas reduce risk by using tools ranging from education and outreach, to risk management plans, to restricted land uses, or prohibition of some activities in some cases. To find out about wellhead protection areas, source protection plans, and upcoming public open houses and public engagement opportunities on plan amendments, visit sourcewaterinfo.on.ca.