Tag Archives: watershed

Arsenic, the Silent Killer – Part II

Please see my first article on arsenic: Arsenic – The Sleeping Giant, published Mar. 31st this year.

“Know Your Well ~ Saskatchewan’s watershed authority teaches users about proper maintenance.” This article appeared in the May/June issue of watercanada magazine by Kerry Freek


A man cleans a well during a community clean-up day in Anguissa, Yaoundé, Cameroon. Provincially, Saskatchewan has got high levels of arsenic, selenium and uranium. When floods occur, these concentrations can make well water unsafe. The Saskatchewan Watershed Authority recommended regular flushes to maintain good water quality.

For Saskatchewan, spring runoff season presents a huge risk for private well contamination, especially considering the province’s high levels of arsenic, Image result for Saskatchewan Watershed Authority (SWA)selenium, and uranium. At the height of this year’s flood crisis in theImage result for drinking water standards saskatchewanPrairies, Terry Hanley, director of science, information, and monitoring for the Saskatchewan Watershed
Authority (SWA) shared details on the water quality risks for well users.

“We have a database of about 4,000 wells that we’ve tested,” says Hanley. “About 50 per cent of those wells exceed at least one maximum allowable concentration (MAC) or drinking water standard. Now that there’s flooding, there’s increased risk to the 100,000 residents that rely on wells.”
He says that last year, after severe flooding in Maple Creek, Yorkton, and North Battleford, 70 per cent of wells in those areas exceeded acceptable nitrate or bacteriological levels. “The MAC for drinking water is 45 milligrams per litre, but we had levels in the 1,500 range,” says Hanley. “There are pretty significant risks, and we expect the same this year.”
That’s why the SWA offers free well tests. “We’ve had E. coli levels in the tens of thousands,” he reveals.
“That’s slightly less than treated effluent—it’s usually a shock to people. Just because the water’s clear doesn’t mean it’s good.”
In Manitoba—also affected by the spring floods—the chief provincial public health officer announced that people using private water supplies should boil their water and test it for bacteria. The Province added that it would cover the full cost of well-water testing for affected areas.
Image result for shock chlorinated the wellsIn addition to gathering demographics on site visits, SWA assesses the wells. How old is the casing? Are there well caps in place? Have the owners shock chlorinated the wells after major weather events?
They found some surprising statistics. Two out of three wells didn’t have caps or casing that is at least two to three inches above ground. Nine out of ten wells had never been shock chlorinated.
“It only takes a few hours to fix these things,” says Hanley, who hopes these assessments will help owners take the simple steps to better understand and maintain their wells.
It appears the program is working. “Of the clients we’ve tested, about 60 per cent have adopted our recommendations,” says Hanley. “That’s huge for us.” 

Here’s a link I  found on Uranium tailings in the Athabasca basin of northern Saskatchewan – definitely worth reading-  http://www.usask.ca/geology/JimSite/Research.html

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Canada in need of a national water policy?

1-BLOG WATER ACT

The following article, “Should Canada have a National Water Policy, by Stephen Braun, appeared in the July/Aug 2014 issue of watercanada.

Despite the best efforts of many people who care so much about our national water resources, Canada has no national water policy or strategy. 

hydrologic_cycle

Canada’s creeks, rivers, lakes, and groundwater are governed by a patchwork of laws and regulations, though they cross provincial or territorial boundaries without restriction.
One thing is certain: coming up with a better definition of a national water policy is not going to make it spontaneously materialize. We have defined this issue well and have a good point of reference. What is required now is political will and recognition that such a policy is essential to Canada’s self-interest – and nothing less.
CWRAFor example, the Canadian Water Resources Association took the issue on in 2008 with the release of Toward a Canadian National Water Strategy, authored by well-Rob-de-Loeknown water policy expert Rob de Loe. Yet implementation remains elusive on this subject despite this and other high profile efforts.
More recently, Ralph Pentland and Chris Wood’s 2013 down the drainbook, Down the Drain: How We are Failing to Protect Our Water Resources, explained the unimplemented but ambitious 1987 Federal Water Policy,and that little progress has been seen since federally. Their arguments and facts that our water resources are an issue of national importance and cannot be left to the provinces are compelling. Pentland and Wood stated: “Legislation currently in force and Confederation’s founding documents empower Canada’s federal Crown to take robust action to defend water, waterways, and the life that inhabits them.”
Canada’s past approach to the contrary, the federal government absolutely does have the power to ensure our national water resources are kept healthy and sound. Canada
Canadians might believe this country is advanced in its environmental policy, but we are lagging behind other Image result for environmental protection agency (epa)jurisdictions. Even Republican U.S. President Richard Nixon recognized the importance of a national water policy. He founded
the  Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA), which subsequently led to the Clean Water and Safe DrinkingSAFE WATER ACT Water acts.  Nixon facilitated some pretty ambitious national water protection in a country not known for its love of federal regulation.
Canada’s more recent approach Of discontinuing environmental round-tables, restricting scientists from speaking publicly, and shuttering cottages on certain lakes might seem like the time isn’t ripe for a national water policy. Perhaps the time will never be right exactly, but as water professionals we must continue to advocate for it.

DESMOND TUTUDesmond Tutu visited some of Canada’s northern watersheds this spring. His famous quote, “I am not an optimist, I am a prisoner of hope,” seemed to capture the mood up there. But he said something else.
ch7_11If we apply this insight to a national water policy, it can be seen that the pillars of the bridge are largely in place. They are there as the result of excellent past work of many in this country and within other parts of the world. The reasonableness is in those pillars; it is up to us to build the rest of the bridge—hopefully with more magnanimity than realpolitik—but it must get built. 

 STEPHEN BRAUNStephen Braun is a principal
and water resources engineer
with GeoProcess Research
Associates.

RAINGRID LOGOHe is a founding
partner of RainGrid Inc.

CWRAand is currently the Ontario branch president of
the 
Canadian Water Resources Association.

Related link

http://www.canadians.org/waterpolicy-info 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er3pJzAmouw

SUCCESS IN BATTLE WITH NESTLE OVER WATER RIGHTS!

PARLIAMENT

NESTLE RED X“Battle with Nestle over water affects Pontiac” – Published in The LowDown Online, by William Amos and Carissa Wong November 27, 2013

WATER CHART

Everyone needs water. Life exists because of it. In Canada, we expect water to be everywhere, accessible and clean. But the reality is that less than one per cent of the world’s freshwater is readily accessible for direct human use.

ONTARO MAPWe also expect our governments to protect this resource and put a community’s need for drinking water ahead of a corporation’s desire to bottle and sell water for profit. But sometimes, governmental priorities get confused, as they did recently in Ontario.

Every day, Ontario permits Nestle Canada Inc. to take 1.13 million litres of water, which it then bottles and sells, from an aquifer in Wellington County near Guelph. GUELPH AQUIFERLast year, the Ontario government — through the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) — renewed the permit on the condition that Nestle would take less water from the aquifer during serious droughts. But Nestle appealed these mandatory restrictions to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal, which has jurisdiction to determine disputes over groundwater permits. Then the MOE tried to cut a settlement deal with Nestle.

ENVIRO LAW CLINICThe deal would have allowed Nestle to avoid the mandatory drought restrictions. But in February, pro bono lawyers at Ecojustice challenged the deal on behalf of Wellington Water Watchers and Council of Canadians.

We filed a legal submission with the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal, arguing that the proposed settlement was bad for the province and deserved closer scrutiny. Last month, the Tribunal agreed with our clients. It concluded that the proposed settlement deal was not in the public interest and was inconsistent with the Ontario Water Resources Act. The Tribunal ordered a full hearing so that the appropriateness of the drought-based restrictions could be thoroughly examined.  But recently, as a result of the Tribunal’s decision to order a hearing, Nestle withdrew its appeal of the mandatory drought restrictions. The deal is dead.

GUELPH GROUNDWATERSo Nestle must comply with the original permit conditions, reducing the amount of groundwater it takes from Wellington County during drought. Because these non-profit community groups took action, Nestle must leave more water for other users (in dry times) and the government must ensure they live up to that promise.       

Federal, provincial and municipal governments are each responsible, to the extent of their jurisdictions, for managing groundwater resources. But that’s not always what happens. Sometimes well-organized, dedicated members of the public must use the legal system to hold government accountable.

GUELPH WATERSHEDOur watersheds are vulnerable when governments roll out the red carpet for private companies who bristle at mandatory restrictions on their water takings.

In this case, the MOE had it right in the first place — drought-based restrictions should be applied to all future water takings for bottle water enterprises. All Ontarians, not just those who drink water from a well, need to be protected against those who would cut deals that limit the government’s ability to safeguard our shared water supplies. The same approach should apply in Quebec.

PONTIACThe example from Wellington County resonates throughout Canada. It hits home to those of us living in the Pontiac who depend on well-water for our basic needs. When making decisions about the water that sustains our communities, the government’s job is to put the greater public interest first.

Ed. note: William Amos is a Chelsea resident and is the Director of the Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Ottawa. Carissa Wong is an articling student at Ecojustice.

NESTLE ROAD SIGNThe following are my thoughts and not part of this article:
I would think that the province of B.C. should be taking a very close look at this  outcome for many like Sheila Muxlow, pictured outside Nestle’s bottling plant near Hope, B.C. on Aug. 12, 2013, who have concerns about Nestle withdrawing millions of litres of water without payment.  According to the provincial Ministry of Environment, “B.C. is the only jurisdiction in Canada that doesn’t regulate groundwater use.”

http://www.lowdownonline.com/battle-with-nestle-over-water-affects-pontiac/

Interesting related link ~

https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/blog_categories/bottled-water/blogs/

USER FEES THAT PLEASE – KITCHENER, ONTARIO

USER FEES_WITH TEXT BOXThe following excerpts are taken from WaterCanada’s Mar/Apr issue article, ‘USER FEES THAT PLEASE’, by Nick Gollan – A new USER FEES SIGNuser pay and credit system helps Kitchener fund its municipal stormwater program.

assn of municipalitiesThe City of Kitchener received the Peter J. Marshall Municipal Innovation Award from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Best Practices Award from Ontario Good Roads Association in 2011, for the implementation of its stormwater rate model.

GRAND RIVERStormwater flows within the Kitchener, Ontario are directed towards the Grand River, with Lake Erie acting as the ultimate receiver. Additionally, about 70 per cent of the drinking water for Kitchener residents comes from groundwater sources, with the balance from the Grand River; therefore, source water protection is critical, not only for the City, but across the watershed. In this respect, KSTORMWATER MANAGEMENTitchener is representative of many mid-sized Canadian communities. Located in southwestern Ontario, Kitchener has stormwater management (SWM) infrastructure assets valued at $300 million, covering a land mass of about 137 square kilometres. Property taxes are still the primary source of SWM program funding for Ontario municipalities. However, many municipalities recognize that some form of user pay approach needs to be developed in order to fairly and equitably distribute the increasing costs associated with this municipal service.
SHARED INITIATIVEImplementing user pay: The City of Kitchener, along with the adjacent City of Waterloo, collaboratively completed the SWM Program and Funding Review Study. AECOM was the lead consultant who undertook the feasibility study which included an extensive public consultation and review over the course of five years. CITY COUNCILBoth councils agreed to the study recommendations, and both adopted the overarching principles of a user pay approach. The implementation of a rate structure that rationally assigns costs of service to users is an innovative and important step forward and demonstrates the feasibility of an equitable and defendable stormwater rate structure… STORMWATER CREDIT PROGRAMUnder the utility structure, the impervious area is used as a surrogate to determine the amount of stormwater loading discharged to the municipal system and a credit policy provides financial incentives for property owners to implement and maintain private SWM best management practices (BMPs) to reduce stormwater loading.

KITCH COUNCILA tiered flat fee stormwater rate model has been in place since January 1, 2011. A rate tier is assessed to each land parcel based on their impervious area. The charge appears on the monthly municipal utility bill and is itemized as a SWM service. Moving to this type of funding model has allowed Kitchener to make significant improvements to the municipal stormwater infrastructure such as the Victoria Park Lake Improvements project completed in 2012. Other municipalities that fund stormwater programs in a similar fashion include the City of Waterloo, Ontario, the City of Edmonton, Alberta, and the City of Portland, Oregon, amongst hundreds of others in the United States.

BAG MONEYRewarding property owners for BMPs:  A key issue that arose during public debates related to the provision of credits for the adoption of BMPs by private property owners. The public wanted to be acknowledged and compensated for implementing BMPs such as vegetated swales, infiltration trenches, pervious pavement, extended detention stormwater basins, constructed wetlands, and other low impact development (LID) techniques. The objective of the city’s stormwater credit policy is to encourage the implementation of measures on private property in order to reduce total runoff volume and pollutant loading discharged to the city’s stormwater management system. Property owners qualify for stormwater rate credits when they demonstrate that their existing or proposed stormwater facilities or applied best management practices are functioning as approved. This policy enables the city to reward private property owners who are good stewards, in the  implementation of SWM best management practices while supporting the municipality’s SWM and sub-watershed policies…   

NICK GOLLANNick Gollan is manager of the stormwater utility at the City of Kitchener.

 

Topic related links –

http://www.waterloo.ca/en/living/creditprogram.asp

http://tpo-training.com/asset-management/kitcheners-stormwater-utility/