City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the January 14 Meeting?

Before Committee of the Whole next Monday, City Council will get a check up on their responsibilities when it comes to the safe delivery and administration of Guelph’s drinking water. 

Water Services: Standard of Care – Understanding Your Role in Providing Safe Drinking Water – Water Services staff including Quality Assurance Co-ordinator Amy Martin, Compliance Co-ordinator John-Paul Palmer, Manager of Technical Services Emily Stahl, and Divisional Manager Wayne Galliher will lead Council through an overview of their responsibilities in helping to maintain safe drinking water in Guelph. The presentation breaks down thusly:

Standard of Care – As outlined in the Safe Drinking Water Act (2002), municipal officials, like members of City Council, are responsible for due diligence in protecting public health when it comes to the administration of municipal drinking water. “Severe penalties” await officials who “do not exercise honesty, competence and integrity to ensure the protection and safety of the users of municipal drinking water systems.”

Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002 – The presentation will highlight two sections of the act, “Section 11: Duties of Owners and Operating Authorities” and “Section 19: Your Duty and Liability.” Section 11 outlines how the municipality has to provide drinking water that meets quality of life standards, and that includes ensuring regular testing and meeting all reporting requirements; section 19 then goes over the legal liability. You can find the act in full here.

Water Services Quality Policy – “Water Services at the City of Guelph is committed to providing consumers with a safe, consistent supply of high quality drinking water while meeting or exceeding, and continually improving on legal, operational and quality management system requirements. Delivering your water with dedication, professionalism and care.”

Protecting Drinking Water – This section goes over the “drinking water protection safety net,” including a strong regulatory framework, transparency and public engagement, regular and reliable testing, and swift, strong action on adverse water quality incidents.

Effective Water Management – In other words, conservation. This includes affordability, the sustainability of resources, and how to best optimize those resources, as in the colour-coded alert system that monitors Guelph’s water use in dry periods like you hear about in the summer.

Drinking Water Treatment and Distribution – Here, we cover Guelph’s two water sources – True groundwater, and groundwater under the direct influence of surface water with effective in-situ filtrationWater quality monitoring – and how the City uses redundant equipment for major processes with provincially certified operators, and how the City manages the maintenance of the distribution channels like mains and towers, all while planning for future growth.

Effective Monitoring and Reporting – In the event of an Adverse Water Quality Incident (AWQI), immediate notifications are sent to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) Spills Action Centre, and Wellington-Dufferin Guelph Public Health as per the Safe Drinking Water Act (2002). In 2017, there were five AWQIs, but further testing revealed that there was nothing to be alarmed about. The water system is inspected once a year, and in 2017, it got a score of 100 per cent.

Municipal Drinking Water Licence – You need five things to get a license: a Drinking Water Works Permit, a Permit to Take Water, an Operational Plan, an Accredited Operating Authority, and a Financial Plan.

Financial and Infrastructure Planning – This is necessary because the municipality needs to ensure that revenue is collected and that it will meet the needs of those services, they also need to plan for the life-cycle of the assets and their management. Assets include all machinery, equipment and structures, and Water Services, in their budget process, must review the drinking water infrastructure; provide a summary of the programs in place to maintain, rehabilitate and review the infrastructure; and, monitor the effectiveness of its maintenance program.

Managing the Risks to Drinking Water – The City has to have a methodology to identify hazards and evaluate them for seriousness. Potential hazards can include main breaks and spills, so a process to assess the impact and the control measures has to be in place. There’s also the Water Services Emergency Response Plan, which outlines how Water Services will respond to a drinking water emergency and how and when you will be notified.

Annual and Summary Reports – The annual reports not only look at the water delivery systems, but at the effectiveness of Water Services. The report includes information on all testing done during the year, any adverse test results and the follow-up actions, and updates on equipment needs and major expenses.

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