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Source water protection is finally coming into force in Ontario. Nearly 13 years after the Walkerton water tragedy, Ontario has approved its first Source Water Protection Plan under the Clean Water Act. The Lakehead Source Protection Plan for the Thunder Bay area is the first  legally binding plan intended to protect active municipal drinking water sources (wells and surface water intakes) from obvious current threats. Although the Plan cannot require cleanup of existing (historic) contamination, it trumps all other laws in terms of current activities inside designated well head protection zones.  Official plans and zoning bylaws must be amended to comply with the Plan.

Lakehead Source Protection Area

“While most Conservation Authorities are based on a natural watershed or group of watersheds, the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority (LRCA) … only covers the lower portions of virtually all of its watersheds. The boundary of  the  LRCA corresponds to the boundaries of its participating Municipalities, yet most of the watercourses  and their watersheds extend beyond these Municipalities in unorganized territory. Territories that are not covered by a Conservation Authority in the Province of Ontario fall under the jurisdiction of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

There are only two Municipal drinking water sources within the LRCA jurisdiction; the Municipality of Oliver Paipoonge Rosslyn Village (groundwater intake) and the City of Thunder Bay (Lake Superior intake).

Agriculture and Septic Tanks main threats

… 32 instances of Significant Drinking Water Threats, as defined by the Clean Water Act, have been identified in the Lakehead Source Protection Area. These threats are all located in the Rosslyn Village Wellhead Protection Area and consist of septic systems and threats related to agriculture. Since these threats are significant, policies have been created in order to protect the drinking water source…

The Land Use Planning Policy will prohibit the future significant threats of establishing a waste disposal site, sewage treatment facilities (not including those under 10,000 litres a day), organic solvents and fuel stored for non-residential use, and the storage of pure dense non-aqueous phase  liquids (DNAPLs) except for incidental volumes for personal, domestic use.

The Specify Action Policy manages the existing significant threat of septic systems under 10,000 litres a day and future significant threats of application handling and storage of road salt, storage of snow and new septic systems under 10,000 litres a day.

The Education and Outreach Policy is designed to educate the residents of WHPA-A on existing and possible future threats on their property. This policy manages all existing agricultural threats and future agricultural threats that could take place on properties that are zoned “rural” and septic systems under 10,000 litres a day. It also advises residents of the harmful  effects of DNAPLs to the groundwater resources.”

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