July 7, 2004 

County wants changes to water regs

But not "repeal"

by Terry Myers

Renfrew County council says it wants to see changes to new provincial drinking water standards that impose "undue and extreme hardship" on rural areas.

But the county's mayors and reeves are not willing to go so far as to say they want the new standards "repealed."

Petawawa Mayor Bob Sweet, the county warden, said calling for the new regulations to be repealed would be pointless.

"I do not believe that anyone sitting around this (county council) table believes this is a fair piece of legislation.

"The question is, how are we going to deal with it?" Sweet said.

"If we ask them to repeal it, we're not going to get anywhere.

"What we need to do is work within it to change it."

But members of the Water Watch Association, a group formed to fight the new regulations, did not agree.

More than 80 people crowded into the county council chambers to hear a presentation by some of its leaders.

Gunther Borck, Water Watch president, said Regulation 170/03, which sets out the new drinking water standards, will have a crippling effect on rural businesses like motels,
resorts, restaurants and campgrounds.

"Regulation 170/03 is founded on a false premise - that being, rural Ontario well water is unsafe to drink.

"Therefore this regulation must be repealed and not revised," Borck said.

Roger Imhof, owner of Bonnechere Lodge on Golden Lake, said the only way to reverse the new regulations is with support from the political level, "which means from you."

"You have the power to help small businesses in your municipality to survive," he said.

"You are the only people who can decide if rural Ontario should die a natural death or not.

"We have to stay together to be strong enough to make sure that our children and grandchildren also have the privilege to live in one of the most beautiful parts in Canada.

"Whenever you have to make a decision either for or against the Regulation 170/03, please do it in favour of the people who voted for you because they trust you."

Regulation 170/03 was brought in last year under the province's new Drinking Water Standards Act.

That act was passed in the wake of the Walkerton water tragedy and the report of the inquiry by Justice Dennis O'Connor.

The new regulations would require all rural businesses, camps and church halls to install chlorinated drinking water systems.

The new regulations were supposed to kick in as of July 1, but the province has extended the deadline for most users to December 31 of this year.