Source Water Protection - ACTION NEEDED NOW!!

Revised, February 2004

Mar 13 2004

Respond to the Government's White Paper on Source Protection and Water TakingsSupport the Source Protection Planning Framework Watershed based source protection planning is one of the most important recommendations made by Justice O'Connor because it has the potential to protect human and ecosystem healthy by preventing future contamination of Ontario waters. CELA urges groups and individuals to review and respond to the government's White Paper on Source Protection. CELA supported the Final Report of the Advisory Committee on Watershed-based Source Protection Planning, titled, "Protecting Ontario's Drinking Water: Toward a Watershed Based Source Protection Planning Framework." The report, dated April 2003, posted to the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry for public comment last year. The report is available on the EBR Registry and on the Ministry of Environment's web site at: http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/techdocs/4383.htm The newly issued white paper proposed legislation to get source protection started in Ontario. It aims to have watershed source protection plans done within two years. See http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/programs/3585e01.pdf It is imperative that Ontario environmental organizations, health organizations, labour organizations, non-governmental organizations and individuals make their voices heard to advise the government that you support source protection and to encourage the government to pass legislation as soon as possible. Still to come are the details of suggested new powers for municipalities and others, candidate boundaries for source protection areas, timelines, funding, mandatory content for source protection plans, indications of the types of circumstances in which source protection plans would supersede other instruments, and much else. These details are being considered by two Advisory Committees on source protection established by the Environment Minister - covering technical and implementation issues respectively. CELA sits on the Source Protection Implementation Committee. BACKGROUNDJustice O'Connor's recommendations arising out of the Walkerton Inquiry included 22 recommendations on source protection for Ontario.An advisory committee was formed in November 2002 and CELA sat on that committee until March 2003. CELA staff, along with other members of the committee, invested a very large commitment of time, energy and resources to ensure that the framework would meet Justice O'Connor's recommendations and would include the elements that we thought necessary to accomplishing the objectives of source protection in Ontario. For example, the Framework outlined accountability and roles and responsibilities for watershed source protection plans, and called for sustainable funding. The report also identified gaps in the current ability of municipalities and others to carry out source protection and made recommendations to provide specific new powers. It outlined a specific plan development process, including composition of watershed steering committees and extensive public consultation at various stages in developing the source protection plans. A critical part of the framework outlines the content of source protection plans, from the needed technical information and baseline conditions, through to identification of where source protection issues exist, such as threats to safety, water allocation problems, areas where the plan might need to influence or govern municipal land use and zoning, areas where biosolids and septage spreading need special consideration, and other issues. An extremely important part of the framework is the chapter on Threat Assessment, which, together with the work on definitions of threats and their relative risks, work that remains to be done in the next six months, will form the backbone of watershed source protection plans. The report also extensively outlines the information needs including base line and ecosystem conditions, outcome measures, ongoing monitoring and resulting reviews of plans. Experts at the Walkerton Inquiry all agreed that source protection is the essential first barrier in a multi-barrier approach to protecting drinking water. CELA encourages you to review and comment on the white paper; we recommend that it deserves your support. The link to the white paper is noted above and the following link provides direction on public rights to comment and suggestions for making your best case: http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/env_reg/ebr/english/ebr_info/Right_to_comment.htm. We suggest you send your comments also to the Premier, your MPP, the Environment Minister and the opposition leaders. See list below.CELA will also be analyzing and commenting on the white paper. For further information:Theresa McClenaghan, CELA Counsel 416-960-2284 ext. 218 or mcclenat@lao.on.ca / mcclenaghan@execulink.comPaul Muldoon, CELA Executive Director 416-960-2284 ext. 219 or muldoonp@lao.on.caList of contacts:Premier: Hon. Dalton McGuintyPremier and Ministerof Intergovernmental AffairsLegislative Building, Rm 281Queen's ParkToronto, ON M7A 1A1 Environment Minister: Hon. Leona DombrowskyMinister of Environment12th Floor, 135 St. Clair Avenue WestToronto, ON M4V 1P5 P.C. Leader: Mr. Ernie Eves, MPPOfficial Opposition - Office of the Leader - Liberal PartyRm 381, Legislative BldgQueen's ParkToronto, ON M7A 1A8NDP Leader: Mr. Howard HamptonMember, NDP 2nd Floor Legislative BldgNorth Wing, Queen's ParkToronto, ON M7A 1A5 NDP MPP: Ms. Marilyn ChurleyMember, NDP Rm 204, Legislative BldgNorth Wing, Queen's ParkToronto, ON M7A 1A5 Environment Commissioner: Mr. Gord Miller Environmental Commissioner of OntarioSuite 605, 1075 Bay StreetToronto, ON M5S 2B1In addition, copies should also go to your local MPP, Mayor, Conservation Authority, and newspaper. Useful links:The full list of MPPs are at http://olaap.ontla.on.ca/mpp/contact.jspConservation Authorities are at http://www.conservation-ontario.on.ca/profile/consareas.htm