Ontario Clean Water Agency to address non-compliance issues

March 14, 2017

Town Council

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On November 10th 2016 a secondary water testing facility, owned by the Town of Saugeen Shores, recognized a faulty chlorine reading and followed all necessary protocol, according to a recent media release.

The ‘low chlorine reading’ notification was triggered at the MacGregor Point location. This secondary testing unit had been temporarily disengaged for plumbing repair and did not affect water quality.  

 In stopping the water flow to the unit, the safety mechanism notified the on-duty Water Operator who immediately responded to the call. The safety mechanism attached to the secondary testing unit worked seamlessly to update staff on the outage.  

At no time was municipal water not treated, nor tested within the distribution system. Water service from the Town of Saugeen Shores continued to meet minimal chlorine levels, as set out by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and tested at the primary source.  The cause of the notification was triggered due to the temporary water shut off to the secondary testing facility.  

 “The Town works closely with Ontario Clean Water Agency and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to ensure our water supply is always safe.” said Mayor Mike Smith in a news release.  

“At no point were there actual low levels of chlorine in the water supply. To reiterate, the low-level chlorine reading that triggered the alarm was due to complete lack of water flow through the pipe. There was no water in order to test the chlorine levels. This means that during the incident, there were no public health issues – the water was safe to drink.” said Karen Lorente, Regional Manager, Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) in a news release.  

At the Council meeting on Monday, March 13th, concerns were raised by Councilors.

In August, 2016, a Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) inspectors rated that Saugeen Shores Drinkng Water System at 89.95% and seven non-compliances were issued and subsequently corrected.

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Councilor Neil Menage said that the 89 per cent compliance rate is poor.  "We (Town) are the owner of the water system and we are subject to any fines if we don't comply."

Councilor Dave Myette agreed.  "Having worked in the area of safety in another industry (nuclear), this kind of incident would not be tolerated.  OCWA is the operator and we found out they have not be doing it.  Perhaps, we need another device mechanism installed. I would like to know if staff is able to do spot checks on the system as we are the operator and can do better in-house."

Director of Public Works, Amanda Froese, said that checks are done and that meetings with OCWA are held on a regular basis.  "None of the town staff has an operator's license," she explained, so that OCWA is the contracted operator.

At the request of Mayor Mike Smith, OCWA will be addressing the non-compliance issues mentioned in the 2016 Water Summary Report and bring forward a report at the March 27th Saugeen Shores Council meeting.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017