By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
Proposed new regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act could pose challenges for municipalities.
The province is considering a move to require municipalities, such as the Region of Durham, to ensure steps to protect water sources are taken prior to new or expanded drinking water systems being made publicly available.
According to a report from commissioner of works Susan Siopis in the Feb. 16 council information package, the proposed regulation “would make municipalities responsible for working with local source protection authorities to ensure that the work necessary to identify the vulnerable areas and to identify threats to drinking water is completed in advance of submitting an application for a new or expanded drinking water system.”
According to Siopis’s report, the new regulation could result in some difficulties.
“Groundwater investigations may require well drilling on one or more private properties to confirm a viable municipal well,” she states. “Private property owners have not been receptive to the implications of source protection policies on their land holdings.”
Siopis recommends that the province should grant municipalities a legal right to access groundwater for a public supply on private property by leasing or purchasing the land “in good faith” at fair market value.
Secondly, a provincial fund should be established to compensate landowners in wellhead protection areas, intake protection zones, and new or expanded municipal water supplies for documented losses of use due to source protection policies.
Siopis’ comments on the proposed regulations will be forwarded to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.