Water Protection Measures Flowing

Posted in: Drinking Water News, Global water resources
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Article courtesy of Jason Miller | February 6, 2015 | The Intelligencer | Shared as educational material

BELLEVILLE – Risk management measures safeguarding some of the region’s water sources is now being rolled out.

Belleville faces one of the lowest threat levels of any of the communities being monitored as its water intake pipe sits farther away from the shoreline.

Activities on lands around Belleville are less likely to impact water pumped in through the intake, said Keith Taylor, project manager for the source water protection program.

“Belleville has a medium vulnerability score,” Taylor said. “Belleville is in pretty good shape. We want to make sure that the sources of drinking water in the Quinte area are not subject to contamination from human activity.”

Under the plan, if the city decides down the road to use fertilizers and pesticides on the Zwick’s soccer fields “that would be in the (Belleville intake) zone and need a risk management plan,” he said. “If there was a business storing used motor oil in that area, it would need a risk management plan.”

Source protection crews also tracked ground water movement in zones like Madoc and Tweed, primarily supplied by municipal wells.

In those communities, the plan prohibits agricultural activities such as the laying of manure and pesticide use within 100 metres of a municipal well.

“We don’t think it’s going to have a huge economic impact on land owners,” he said. “We tried to be fair with all our policies.”

“Part of our requirement was to contact people who are in these zones, so they’re aware.”

Quinte Conservation currently has data from the study posted to its website, with each mapped zone showcasing threat levels as well as fact sheets.

“You can click on each zone and see how the source water protection plan affects you,” he said.

Crews inspected 63 septic tanks around the Roblin Lake area intake pipe, which is closer to shore.

“Most of the septic systems around the lake were considered significant threats,” he said, adding they now have to be inspected every five years.

Using provincial stewardship funding crews inspected, repaired and replaced 20 of them. The remaining 40 or so were in fairly good shape, Taylor said.

“We’ve already started to see some improvements in the water quality around the lake because there were some really bad septic systems around there,” he added.

He said protection agreements are inked under voluntary negotiations, so punitive measures such as fines would be a last resort to force remediation of threats on public property.

Progress to date is the result of a source water protection committee formed in 2007 to collect reams of data from municipal drinking water sources across the area to determine levels of vulnerability.

“We replaced septic systems and did projects to fence cattle out of creeks,” he said about the stewardship programs. “We did well decommissioning manure storage and replaced some oil tanks within 100 metres of wells.”

As for a dollar estimate as to the provincial investment pumped into the program for 11 local municipal systems in the Quinte area, Taylor said it’s been a large investment.

“There has been millions of dollars spent,” Taylor said.

Coun. Garnet Thompson, a city council member on the committee since its inception, said it’s money well spent. The city has dedicated another $75,000, through its provincial purse, to support the program this year.

“We don’t have any major risk in the Belleville area but that money will be used to help monitor, because now the city has to help check on septic systems,” Thompson said.

jason.miller@sunmedia.ca

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