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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Province comes clean with new act

But how legislation will impact Durham water sources still needs review



DURHAM -- A step towards securing clean drinking water for Ontarians was taken last month with the introduction of the provincial Clean Water Act.

What the changes would mean for Durham Region water sources is still up for review.

The proposed act aims to deliver safe drinking water through legislation that would protect drinking water sources such as rivers, lakes, streams and groundwater. If passed in the legislature, the act will enable communities to identify potential risks to drinking water and take the necessary steps to reduce or eliminate the risk. It also would empower local authorities to take preventive measures before a threat to water causes harm.

Conservation authorities would co-ordinate planning across watersheds by supporting local municipalities, gathering information, assessing and ranking threats, consulting, and integrating municipal strategies into larger watershed plans.

"We are glad the legislation is finally out," said Gayle Soo Chan, director of groundwater resources for the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority. "We have been waiting a long time for it and we are encouraged by it."

But as far as any official comments on the impact it will have in Durham Region, Ms. Soo Chan explained there is much detail to be reviewed in the legislation before comments can be made.

"We will be going through it with a fine-toothed comb with our partners," Ms. Soo Chan said.

Durham Region is covered partially by three source protection regions: The Lake Simcoe Region group, the Trent Coalition group and the CTC, made up of the Credit River Conservation Authority, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority.

The CTC Region is currently reviewing the legislation, including the draft regulations released this week and Ms. Soo Chan said it will likely take one month for that process to be completed.

Ontario Environment Minister Laurel Broten introduced the legislation Dec. 5.

"It is ground-breaking legislation that safeguards the health of Ontario families by protecting the natural sources of drinking water across watersheds," said Anne O'Hagan, a spokeswoman for the minister.

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