April 19, 2004

Georgian Bay communities plead guilty to charges under Ontario Water Resources Act

Two municipalities on the southern shore of Georgian Bay recently pleaded guilty to charges under the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA) and were fined a total of $32,000; both were levied victim fine surcharges as well.

Fines totalling $25,000 were imposed on the Township of Tay in connection with three violations of the OWRA. The township, a municipality of approximately 9,500 people on the southeastern shore of Georgian Bay, holds Ministry of Environment (MOE) certificates of approval (C of As) to operate a number of water treatment plants. The Penetanguishene court was told that:

*on July 20, 2001, the township discharged coagulant filtration residue (minerals, an aluminum coagulant, and plant and aquatic animal matter) from a water treatment plant into Georgian Bay, which may have impaired the water;

*on July 16, 2001, it failed to ensure that equipment at one of its water treatment plants was operating to required standards stipulated in its C of A; and

*from May to July, 2002, it failed to report to MOE an occurrence of low free chlorine residual.

The township pleaded guilty to a charge under section 30(1) of the OWRA of discharging the residue that may have impaired the waters of Georgian Bay and was fined $18,000. (No actual impairment was alleged.) A fine of $3,500 was imposed on the township for failing to operate equipment according to the standards set out in its C of A, in contravention of section 107(3) of the OWRA. Finally, the township was fined an additional $3,500 for failing to report the occurrence of low chlorine residual, a breach of regulation 459 under the OWRA. The township was given three months to pay the total fine.

The neighbouring town of Midland was fined $7,000 for failing to comply with a regulation under the OWRA. The town, which has approximately 36,000 permanent residents, is authorized under an MOE C of A to operate a communal water system consisting of 14 water wells and five pumping stations.

The court was told that in November 2002, MOE staff inspecting the drinking water system found that on numerous occasions the town had not collected and analyzed drinking water samples as required by Schedule 2 of Ontario Regulation 459 under the OWRA. Failure to do so is a violation of Section 107(1) of the OWRA.

The town of Midland pleaded guilty to failing to sample and analyze weekly for microbiological parameters at Well #9 on three occasions, between December 16, 2001 and June 29, 2002, and on two occasions at its Sunnyside Pump Station, between January 13, 2002 and January 26, 2003. Fines of $3,500 were imposed for each of these two offences, and the town was given 60 days to pay the $7,000 fine.

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