June 28, 2004

Nova Scotia proposes new standards for potable water haulers

Proposed guidelines for potable water haulers, released for comment on June 21 by Nova Scotia Environment and Labour are intended to enhance the protection of municipal and public drinking water supplies provided for by the provincial government's overall drinking water strategy.

"The water haulers association asked us to establish standards for the equipment and the sources from which the water is taken," said Environment and Labour Minister Kerry Morash. "We agreed that these are appropriate actions to ensure public confidence in our drinking water supplies."

While Nova Scotia has abundant groundwater supplies, some wells occasionally run dry and need to be filled by a water hauler. Some large commercial facilities also depend on reservoirs that are refilled by water haulers. Water used to replenish these wells and reservoirs must come from an acceptable source of supply to protect groundwater and human health.

Well construction and pump installation are governed by provincial well construction regulations which serve to ensure that these installations meet high standards for the protection of groundwater and human health. The water hauling industry, however, is unregulated and has operated under outdated guidelines from the Nova Scotia Department of Health and former boards of health.

In some cases, water is being obtained from questionable sources of supply and is being hauled in equipment which does not meet any current standard. The proposed potable water hauler guidelines will set standards for the quality of the source water and the equipment used to deliver the water to the consumers. At the same time, they will establish a level playing field for the industry.

Morash said the water hauling industry has also asked for tighter controls on operators. "We're proposing to require water haulers to hold a certificate of qualification," he explained. "The certificate will carry an obligation to follow strict procedures to ensure the water and the equipment that carries it are safe." An amendment to the well construction regulations will add this requirement.

The Department of Environment and Labour developed the guidelines in consultation with the Nova Scotia Water Haulers Association, the Nova Scotia Groundwater Society and the Waste Water Nova Scotia Society, in addition to reviewing other jurisdictions' requirements in this area. The proposed Nova Scotia guidelines meet or surpass these requirements, says the department.

The proposed guidelines and regulation changes may be viewed on the Environment and Labour Web site, www.gov.ns.ca/enla/. Consultation material is also available by calling 1-800-567-7544. Comments will be accepted until Friday, July 23, 2004 and should be directed to Environmental Monitoring and Compliance Division, Nova Scotia Environment and Labour, PO Box 697, Halifax B3J 2T8, FAX 902/424-0569. More information is available from John Perkins at Environment and Labour, 902/424-6427, E-mail: perkinje@gov.ns.ca.

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