Media Release

Environmentalists Accuse McGuinty Government Of Delay in Fixing “Deficient” Water Well Regulation

Sep 21 2005

The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) today accused the McGuinty government of undue delay in fixing Ontario’s flawed water well regulation (Regulation 903), and potentially risking the health of thousands of Ontarians who drink wellwater.“Three months ago, an independent review of Regulation 903 by the Environment Minister’s own expert panel found that it is deficient in relation to wellwater disinfection requirements for new and existing wells,” said Richard Lindgren, CELA counsel.  “The Walkerton Tragedy has amply demonstrated what can happen when wellwater is contaminated with harmful bacteria and not properly disinfected.  Why is the McGuinty government refusing to fix Regulation 903, failing to publicly release the independent review, and promoting the Regulation as one of the toughest well rules in North America?”  In June 2005, the province’s Advisory Council on Drinking Water Quality and Testing Standards sent an advice letter on Regulation 903 to the Environment Minister.  Significantly, the Advisory Council agreed with CELA’s view that the current disinfection requirements for well construction and repair are “deficient” for numerous reasons.  Therefore, the Advisory Council specifically recommended that Regulation 903 should ensure that a rigorous five-step disinfection and sampling protocol is followed before wellwater is consumed after well construction or repair.Despite this detailed prescriptive advice, three months have elapsed since this advice letter was received by the Ministry.  The current Environment Minister, Laurel Broten, has not announced when – or if – the Ministry intends to act upon the Advisory Council’s recommendations to fix the deficient Regulation, nor has the Minister publicly released the Advisory Council’s advice letter. “Since August 2003, tens of thousands of wells have been constructed or repaired and presumably disinfected in accordance with the flawed Regulation,” said Paul Muldoon, CELA’s Executive Director.  “In order to protect the health of Ontarians who rely upon wellwater, CELA is calling upon the McGuinty government to correct past mistakes by amending Regulation 903 forthwith.  We also urge the Ontario government to issue an immediate public announcement to owners of domestic wells constructed or repaired after August 1, 2003 to have their wellwater sampled and analyzed for bacteria.”For more information: Richard Lindgren (613-385-1686) or Paul Muldoon (416-960-2284, ext. 219) and Sept 21/05 Backgrounder and CELA's Application for Review of Regulation 903, linked below.