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Proposed amendments to source protection plan address fuel storage and salt use

·4 min read

OWEN SOUND – Proposed amendments to the approved source protection plan and assessment reports for the Saugeen, Grey Sauble, and Northern Bruce Peninsula source protection region are now available for review and comment.

They include some fine-tuning to sections dealing with salt application and storage, and fuel storage.

Project manager Carl Seider said the 2016 legislation underwent a review process “to see what worked and what didn’t.”

One thing that needed changing is the fuel storage threshold. Seider said recent news stories about the water system in Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, show what can happen when drinking water is contaminated by fuel.

In Iqaluit, people had complained the water smelled like fuel, but initial tests came back clear. The water tank that supplies drinking water to the city has since been found to be contaminated with a high concentration of what is probably diesel or kerosene, the source of which remained unknown as of press time.

Pregnant women have been warned against even bathing in the water, and the city’s population has been drinking bottled water or clean water from a nearby river.

Seider said current regulations require a risk management plan for storage tanks larger than 2,500 litres. Proposed regulations lower the threshold to 250 litres.

“We’re getting better talking to residents (about home heating fuel tanks) and the companies who fill them… It’s very difficult when fuel gets into ground water,” said Seider.

He added, “It does happen, but if we can minimize the risk… that’s the goal.”

Salt has also been given a second look, especially application and storage near wellhead protection areas.

The purpose of requiring a salt management plan is to reduce the amount of salt.

“We had policies in place,” said Seider, “but they didn’t apply everywhere.”

He said studies done in areas including the Grand River watershed were finding sodium seeping in at “much lower levels,” leading the province to revisit the situation.

Rules are changing to require properties with a smaller amount of impervious material, for example, an apartment building with an eight-car parking lot – 30 per cent of impervious material from the previous 80 per cent – would be a potential threat requiring a salt management plan.

This would include such measures as clearing snow before putting down salt. Just applying salt means it melts and refreezes, requiring more salt.

It’s all about industry standards, Seider said. There’s a lot of information available (check the Smart About Salt website) where municipalities can get training.

“We want to make sure people are aware and educated,” he said. “We would work with municipalities to find alternatives, to keep the amount around wells as low as possible.”

Salt builds up in soil, and in areas where it occurs naturally, even small amounts can have a huge impact.

“These policies will be good for municipalities and the MTO,” Seider said. “The rules need to be consistent and apply to everybody.”

The draft amendments include new and/or amended wellhead protection areas for Blairs Grove Well 3 in Huron-Kinloss, Durham Well 2A in West Grey and Dundalk Well D5 in Southgate.

There is also a new East Linton events-based area for large fuel storage in Georgian Bluffs.

These updates under Section 36 of the Clean Water Act, 2006 can be found on the home.waterprotection.ca website on the source protection plan page – Consultation 2021 Directory.

The source protection committee will consider any comments received and make revisions as necessary.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions there won’t be any public meetings. However, staff are planning to deliver an information webinar on Wednesday, Nov. 10, followed by a question-and-answer session to allow individual comments to be discussed. Details for this session will be posted on the website listed below and social media platforms.

Comments on the proposed amendments to the source protection plan can be submitted in writing by Nov. 19, at 4:30 p.m., to: Drinking Water Source Protection, Attn: Project Manager, Source Protection Plan Section 36 Comments, 237897 Inglis Falls Road, RR 4 Owen Sound, ON N4K 5N6 or mail@waterprotection.ca.

Drinking water source protection is a program governed by legislation and regulations of the Clean Water Act, 2006. The source protection plan is a science-based document that was developed locally and written for this source protection region. The source protection plan was approved by the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change on Oct. 16, 2015. Policies in the plan became effective on July 1, 2016.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times

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