November 22, 2004

Reg 170 change would extend treatment deadlines for small drinking water systems

A proposed amendment to Ontario's drinking water systems regulation (Reg 170) would extend the compliance deadlines for small and rural drinking water systems. Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky announced the proposed amendment at the last in a series of 12 stakeholder consultation meetings convened by the Advisory Council on Drinking Water Quality and Testing Standards.

"I have heard rural communities loud and clear when they say they are having difficulty meeting the stringent requirements of the drinking water systems regulation," she said. "We will protect public health and safety as we look for options for making the regulation more workable for small communities and rural water systems. We remain committed to implementing the recommendations of the Walkerton Inquiry."

In a preliminary report submitted to the minister in mid-September, the Council requested more time to complete its review of the requirements of Reg 170, in order to conduct a risk assessment of the regulation and consult with the public on its application to private water systems. The advice stemming from the just-concluded series of meetings will not be received in time to make regulatory amendments before the current deadline of December 31, 2004 that affects many drinking water systems. Extending the deadlines will allow the minister time to carefully consider the council's advice and provide more time for communities to implement changes.

(In June, the July 1, 2004 deadline for installing municipal treatment equipment was extended to December 31, 2004 for large municipal and non-municipal non-residential systems as well as non-municipal year-round residential systems which obtain water from a surface source and do not serve a designated facility.)

The proposed amendment would extend the deadlines for installing minimum required treatment equipment:

*from December 31, 2004 (for systems using surface water) and December 31, 2005 (for systems using groundwater) to July 1, 2006 (surface and groundwater) for large municipal and non-municipal non-residential drinking water systems and for non-municipal year-round residential drinking water systems; and

*from July 1, 2005 to December 31, 2006 for small municipal and non-municipal non-residential drinking water systems and non-municipal seasonal residential drinking water systems (using surface water). The existing compliance deadline of December 31, 2006 for systems in these categories using groundwater would not change.

Other amendments to the deadlines address the posting of signs and the submission of notices indicating an owner's intent to install treatment equipment, post signs (if eligible) or seek relief from minimum treatment requirements (if eligible).The deadline extensions apply to large community centres, town halls, motels, resorts, campgrounds and other tourist operators, mobile home parks, and rural subdivisions and apartments/condominiums.

Comments on the proposed amendments are due by December 8, 2004. The proposal may be viewed on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry (registry reference No RA04E0020).

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