Rural Council Comment - (Sept. 6/04) -  Re: Water Regs. 170-03


Message from: Bob McKinley
President, Rural Council

Regulation #170/03

A topic which is just now rising to the level of informed debate deals with Ontario Regulation #170 /03 under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The regulation is now in place but implementation has been deferred until the end of the year.

This regulation strikes at the very heart of rural business and social structure. It requires that every well used to serve water to the public will be regulated even when the well in question has a proven history of safe supply. The regulation applies expressly to every rural place of worship service club or recreational facility. Inspectors employed by the Minister of the Environment enjoy rights of search and seizure on private property without benefit of a warrant or court order. In other words the civil liberties of these organizations now rank below those enjoyed by criminals or terrorists.

Ministerial staff admit that the financial impact and ability to fund the costs of compliance was not assessed by it prior to its passage. In many cases the capital cost or the regular operating costs will force the closure of business, church halls, day care centres and the like, even though these facilities have functioned safely for many years in the past.

To put the costs in some perspective, here are some stats. The City of Ottawa after amalgamation became the owner of 103 facilities which rely on well water, many of these have functioned safely under the supervision of the City Medical Officer however notwithstanding that history, the City has now budgeted $1.2 Million for the initial capital cost of compliance for new treatment facilities. They are also budgeting $ 500,000.00 annually for testing and other operating cost. When you consider the fact that there are many thousands of such wells across the province you begin to appreciate the scope of the impact. The program is simply unnecessary and unaffordable.

The Rural Council , and  many other Rural groups, are now actively engaged in lobbying the province to reconsider, however public groups ---particularly churches and service clubs--- need to know more about this issue.