While Canada is well-known for our Great Lakes and our numerous freshwater lakes, we must all do our part to protect our drinking supply. After the Walkerton crisis in 2006, where seven people died and thousands of others became seriously ill from contaminated drinking water, the provincial government passed the Clean Water Act. As part of this act, municipalities have been charged with creating Drinking Water Source Protection Plans.
As a member of the Hamilton Halton Source Water Protection Stakeholder Committee, I have been working with the planners drafting the plan and speaking with residents about their concerns.
The majority of our residents’ drinking water comes from Lake Ontario and a small percentage rely on private and municipal wells for their water.
As part of the protection plan, threats to water sources have been identified, including septic systems and farm runoff. Under the new plan, residents who have septic tanks located within 100 metres of groundwater wells that serve the municipal water system will have to have their septic systems inspected every five years. This is to ensure that they are functioning properly.
Over the summer, residents had the opportunity to attend meetings where they were able to ask questions and provide their feedback on the plan. Once the public meetings concluded, the plan was sent to the Ministry of the Environment for review. The review process is expected to take up to one year and, if approved, implementation would begin after that.