Canada orders corrections at water plants

The Ministry of the Environment has ordered the owners and operators of 79 municipal waterworks to take corrective action to meet various requirements of Ontario’s Drinking Water Protection Regulation.

The orders follow inspections of 218 waterworks between April and August, which found that 107 waterworks failed to meet regulatory standards or requirements, ministry officials said. Corrective action was ordered in instances where thee is a potential threat to human health.

“Our goals are to protect human health and ensure full compliance with our drinking water standards,” said Environment Minister Elizabeth Witmer. “The Ontario government is committed to ensuring that all water treatment facilities are operated in accordance with the highest standards.”

The 28 facilities that did not receive an order had already taken action to ensure their ability to meet the requirements of the Drinking Water Protection Regulation, said ministry officials.

The primary reasons for failed waterworks inspections include insufficient bacteriological and chemical testing of drinking water, found at 81 waterworks; failure to meet bacteriological or chemical drinking water standards, found at 40 waterworks; failure to maintain required disinfectant levels in the distribution system, found at 23 waterworks; and inadequate ongoing training or lack of proper certification, found at six waterworks.

Ontario’s Drinking Water Protection Regulation took effect in August 2000. It includes the province’s first-ever, legally enforceable drinking water standards, as well as stringent requirements for testing, treatment and reporting.

The most serious offences under the Drinking Water Protection Regulation are subject to the tougher penalties that came into effect in Ontario in November 2000. Ontario now has the highest fines and longest jail terms in Canada for major environmental offences, said ministry officials.

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