Much-Needed Source Protection Legislation Receives Second Reading
Toronto – Laurel Broten, Ontario’s Environment Minister, presented the Clean Water Act, 2005 to the Legislative Assembly and it passed Second Reading this afternoon. The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) commends the Ontario Legislature for its continued support of this important legislation.
The purpose of the Act is to protect existing and future sources of drinking water. It supports the implementation of at least 22 of Justice O’Connor’s recommendations following the Walkerton Inquiry. In the Report of the Walkerton Inquiry, Justice O’Connor recommended that drinking water sources be protected through watershed-based source protection plans. He also noted the importance of including the public in the preparation of these plans.
The Act accomplishes both of these objectives by providing for the creation of source protection committees, which will in turn develop plans for the protection of their watersheds. Members of the public may sit on the committees, and will be invited to comment on the proposed plans.
“At the Walkerton Inquiry, Justice O’Connor spoke of a ‘multi-barrier’ approach to drinking water safety. The first barrier is the protection of water sources from contamination or depletion,” said Jessica Ginsburg, lawyer with CELA. “It makes sense to prevent problems from arising in the first place. This legislation goes a long way towards achieving that objective.”
The legislation will benefit the health of urban and rural residents across much of the province, and will prevent many new health hazards from developing. Through the assessment and reduction of drinking water threats, the Act will help protect:
- water quality and quantity;
- Great Lakes and inland communities; and
- groundwater and surface water sources.
The costs of not protecting drinking water sources are significant. They include higher water treatment expenses; more frequent water shortages; lack of public confidence in the drinking water system; and the potential for illness or even death.
“Once enacted, the Clean Water Act will help ensure the protection of surface water and groundwater resources that serve as sources of drinking water for Ontarians,” said CELA lawyer Richard Lindgren. “We urge the Ontario government to pass and implement this important legislation as soon as possible.”
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For further information:
Jessica Ginsburg Counsel, Tel: 416-960-2284 ext. 226 Email: jginsburg @ cela.ca