Work to enact local plans to protect drinking water sources ‘progressing well,’ Progress Report says
Local work to protect municipal drinking water sources continues to have positive progress, according to the second annual Progress Report.
The Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Source Protection Region submitted the progress report to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) at the start of May. Most local source protection plan policies have been implemented and enactment of the remaining policies is progressing well, according to the report.
“Municipalities, stakeholder groups and agencies, and local citizens – through actions at home and where they work – have helped to put plan policies into action,” said Matt Pearson, Chair of the Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Source Protection Committee (SPC). “Their involvement is reducing risk to our water sources and helping to keep our municipal drinking water safe and clean.”
The Source Protection Committee endorsed the Annual Progress Report, by consensus, at a meeting on March 22, 2019. The full report can be downloaded at the local source protection region website:
Ninety per cent of legally binding policies to address significant threats to drinking water have been put into action, according to the report. Enacting the other ten per cent of policies is in progress.
Municipal risk management officials (RMOs) have worked with people in the community to develop and enact risk management plans to reduce risk to local sources of well water. More than 75 risk management plans have been put into place since source protection plans took effect in 2015.
Septic system inspections are also progressing well, according to the report. Septic system inspections are required once every five years, in areas where that system could be a significant threat to drinking water. This applies in the most vulnerable areas close to a municipal well. There are 206 septic systems, in the source protection region, that are subject to the mandatory inspection program. Ninety-nine per cent of these systems have been inspected in accordance with the Ontario Building Code and found to be functioning as designed.
Nine municipalities in the source protection region have wellhead protection areas where water sources are most vulnerable and where significant drinking water threat policies apply. All of the municipalities in the Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley (ABMV) Source Protection Region (SPR) have processes in place to ensure their day-to-day planning decisions conform with the Maitland Valley and Ausable Bayfield source protection plans.
Municipalities have installed 88 Drinking Water Protection Zone signs in the region. The signs are installed on roads near municipal water sources to alert citizens their actions in these zones can have an impact on a municipal drinking water source. The signs are an effective way to educate and remind everyone of the need to protect our sources of water, the report says.
The second annual progress report covers the period of January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018. The annual progress report outlines the progress made in implementing the plans for the Ausable Bayfield and Maitland Valley Source Protection Areas, as required by the Ontario Clean Water Act, 2006 and its regulations. The first source protection plans in the region took effect in 2015 and amended, revised plans were approved on January 31, 2019 and took effect on February 5, 2019. The plans were developed locally and approved by the Province of Ontario.
There are 25 municipal groundwater well systems and two Lake Huron intakes in the Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Source Protection Region. More than half of the people in the region are served by these systems and the rest get their water from private or communal wells and intakes.
Visit the region’s local website at sourcewaterinfo.on.ca or the Province of Ontario web page at ontario.ca/page/source-protection to find out more. If you have questions, please contact Program Co-Supervisor Mary Lynn MacDonald at 1-888-286-2610 or Program Co-Supervisor Donna Clarkson at 1-519-335-3557.