April 24, 2006

Durham region fined $33K for water plant operation offences

WHITBY, ONT-The Regional Municipality of Durham pleaded guilty to three charges under Ontario's Safe Drinking Water Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act and was fined $33,000 plus a victim fine surcharge. The charges related to offences discovered during Ministry of Environment (MOE) inspections at three facilities operated by Durham. A charge was laid under the Safe Drinking Water Act regulation 170/03, which requires drinking water equipment to be in operation whenever water is obtained or supplied, after it was found that on June 16, 2004, there had been a loss of alum flow at the Whitby water supply treatment plant and distribution system. Alum, a coagulant, helps reduce turbidity by binding itself to impurities in the water during treatment. Although the alum flow valves had accidentally been shut off, turbidity levels in the water being supplied did not pose any risk to consumers of the water. Durham was fined $10,000 for this violation. Durham was also charged under regulation 170/03 of the act with failing to take water samples from all wells in a drinking water system after it was found that weekly raw water samples were not taken from wells in the Cannington water system between July 1 and December 31, 2003. The samples were taken for operational wells, but not non-production wells. A fine of $15,000 was levied. Finally, an inspection of Durham's Blackstock water supply system early in 2004 revealed that between October 1 and December 31, 2003, water samples were not analyzed for all the parameters required by the facility's permit to take water (PTTW). However, Durham was charged for the month of January 2004 with failure to carry out analysis for inorganic parameters as required by section 107(3) of the Ontario Water Resources Act and fined $8,000.

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