September 25, 2006

Expert committee set up to advise on drinking water funding program

An 11-member committee has been set up by Ontario Environment Minister Laurel Broten to guide the development and direction of a funding program intended to protect sources of drinking water and meet the needs of rural communities. An amendment to Bill 43 (the Clean Water Act) proposed by the government earlier this month would enshrine the financial assistance program in legislation, initially making $7 million available (EcoWeek September 18, 2006).

The expert group, whose members include agricultural, municipal and conservation authority representatives, will provide advice on how the funding program should be administered and allocated. Dr Al Lauzon, who is past chair of the Ontario Rural Council and a faculty member at the University of Guelph's school of environmental design and rural development, will head the committee.

The other members are: Ron Bonnett, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture; Dale Cowan, former president /owner of Agri-Food Laboratories in Guelph and now general manager for the firm as a subsidiary of AgriTrace International; Carol Dillon, a rural resident of eastern Ontario with a long-standing interest in watersheds and water issues, including serving as co-chair of the Friends of the Tay Watershed Association, a community-based group dedicated to the protection of watershed waters; John Maaskant, director of the Chicken Farmers of Ontario representing Huron County, chair of the Ontario Farm Animal Council and co-chair of the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition; Donald Pearson, general manager of Conservation Ontario and a former general manager, for over 20 years, of the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority; Russ Powell, a founding director and current chair of the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation, who also serves as chief administrative officer for the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority and as a member of the province's Greenbelt advisory council; Ken Seiling, a member of the board of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) with over 20 years of experience in municipal and regional municipal government; Delbert Shewfelt, a retired real estate broker and land developer who served on Goderich town council for over 20 years, including 15 years as mayor; Dr Rick Smith, executive director of the not-for-profit group Environmental Defence and a director of both the Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine Foundations; and Rob Walton, director of public works for Oxford County and previously manager of water and wastewater services for the county, as well as serving as chair of the Ontario Municipal Water Association for 2006/2007.

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