Local Committee Moving Forward to Remove Nitrate Issue Designation from Walkerton Drinking Water Syste,
For Immediate Release
The Source Protection Committee (SPC) for the Saugeen, Grey Sauble, Northern Bruce Peninsula Source Protection Region is moving forward with steps to remove the designation of nitrates as an issue that is currently applied to the Walkerton Drinking Water System. “After careful review of recent data on nitrate levels in the Walkerton area, the Committee feels confident in its decision to begin the process to remove the nitrate issue designation for the Walkerton municipal wells. The decision, as with all water issue decisions, has been made based on the evidence of the scientific research presented to us,” stated SPC Chair Mike Traynor.
The Committee’s decision means that the following will take place: the Assessment Report will be revised; nitrate policies will be deleted from the Proposed Source Protection Plan; and dozens of properties will not be affected by policies.
At the May 30, 2014 meeting of the SPC, a presentation was made by the Drinking Water Source Protection Project Manager, David Ellingwood, regarding the history of the designation and the scientific work and data that has been collected since the original Assessment Report was compiled. The SPC included the nitrate issue in the Assessment Report, which was reviewed and approved by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) in 2011. When the supporting information was presented to the MOE, it was agreed that a nitrate issue did exist. Work associated with issues and appropriate policies were drafted as part of the Proposed Source Protection Plan.
The MOE took steps to continue to monitor a series of wells that have a relationship to the production wells for Walkerton. A recent MOE report, with the added years of data and longer trend lines, shows that levels are not increasing. With this science to suggest a removal of the issue, Drinking Water Source Protection staff were able to prepare a resolution that was passed by SPC members on May 30, 2014.
Landowners in the area of the Walkerton Nitrate Issue Contributing Area will be notified of this change. Brockton Mayor David Inglis commented, “Council is pleased with the recommendation made by the Source Protection Committee which recognizes the scientific test results that show a consistent decline in nitrate levels over a long
The process going forward is that this change will be submitted with other technical work as part of an updated Assessment Report in January 2015. The resolution has been sent to the Ministry of the Environment so that it is fully aware of the intent of the local Source Protection Committee. The Ministry of the Environment staff will continue to work with the local Source Protection Committee to ensure that the process to remove the designation from the Assessment Report and policies from the Proposed Source Protection Plan goes through the appropriate review. As per the SPC resolution, a monitoring policy will remain to ensure that scientific data will continue to be collected on the occurrence of nitrates for the Walkerton Drinking Water System.
More information on Drinking Water Source Protection is available on the website:
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
David Ellingwood, Project Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-470-3000 x 102
Karen Gillan, Communications Specialist, email@example.com or 519-470-3000 x 108
The following resolution was passed by the Source Protection Committee members at the May 30, 2014 meeting:
“WHEREAS a nitrate issue was designated for the Walkerton Drinking Water System in the Assessment Report for the Saugeen Valley Source Protection Area;
AND WHEREAS recent data respecting the nitrate levels in the Walkerton area have been reviewed by the Source Protection Committee;
AND WHEREAS the Ministry of the Environment has published a “Hydrogeological Report -Nitrate Occurrence in PGMN Well W188-2 – Walkerton area – Update Report” which notes decreasing trends in nitrate levels in monitoring wells;
THAT the Source Protection Committee will begin the process to remove the nitrate issue designation for the Walkerton Drinking Water System from the Assessment Report for the Saugeen Valley Source Protection Area and revise the text and mapping accordingly; and
THAT the Source Protection Committee will begin the process to remove policies from the Proposed Source Protection Plan that relate solely to the Walkerton Nitrate Issue Contributing Area, while retaining a policy to assure the continued collection of data on the occurrence of nitrates for the Walkerton Drinking Water System.
Why are nitrates an issue? Nitrates are naturally occurring in the environment. This form of nitrogen is found in the soil and used by plants; however, it can leach into groundwater. Groundwater and plants can be contaminated from manure, excess fertilizer applications and septic system leaks.
A high level of nitrate in drinking water could lead to “blue baby syndrome” in infants under six months of age. This condition results in the reduced ability of blood to carry oxygen causing the skin to turn bluish, particularly around the eyes and mouth. Pregnant women and people with low stomach acidity can also be affected.
Nitrates cannot be detected without proper water testing as they are colourless, odorless and tasteless. Boiling water will not remove nitrates, actually the opposite – they will become more concentrated. Infant formula should not be prepared with water that has high nitrate levels. Livestock can be poisoned if they consume large quantities of water or plants containing nitrates. (Sources: www.halton.ca and www.uwex.edu/ces/forage/pubs/nitrate.htm ) If you suspect that there could be elevated levels of nitrates in your private well supply, you should consider getting a water test from an accredited lab. For further advice contact local the Public Health office.
Additional information on nitrates and water testing resources:
Private Water Testing: http://www.ogwa.ca/page-1650285
Licenced laboratories in Ontario: http://www.ontario.ca/environment-and-energy/list-licensed-laboratories