Safe Drinking Water



How safe is our drinking water?: Runoff from farms a serious threat to water supplie


McPherson says that farmers are able to inoculate their animals (without the services of a veterinarian) with antibiotics, de-wormers and more, and that for many years she has been asking farmers to be responsible and remove their livestock from our creeks, bays and rivers, and to stop farm runoff from entering our watercourses.

McPherson says she contacted several government agencies, but no one would help. No one would enforce Section 30 (1) of the Ontario Water Resources Act, which says no one can allow deleterious substances to enter our waterways or damage the banks of a watercourse.

Finally, the professional staff of the Environmental Protection Branch of Environment Canada came into the area and, recently, 14 landowners were told to remove their livestock from Wilton Creek and/or to stop deleterious substances from entering the watershed - or face huge fines.

Dr. Hall states that "bacteria is one problem.... It's the short-term one that makes us sick, but we have other things in the water that are going to make us sicker in the long run."

The citizens of Walkerton, Ontario, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and North Battleford, Saskatchewan might disagree. Their loved ones are dead because they ingested bacteria and parasites. So would the countless people who suffer from ulcers and stomach cancer. A bacteria called helicobacter pylori, which is air- and water-borne, kills and adds millions of dollars to the costs of medical care. It has been found in groundwater in Pennsylvania and sheep's milk in England.

More research is needed to find a zoological source and to develop a method of testing water for this deadly bacteria. At present it is too difficult to culture in water and is therefore detected mainly through blood screening and air tests.

Gary Martin, Acting Regional Director, Eastern Region, Ministry of the Environment Kingston writes regarding the story "City's water toxic, expert warns" (March 7), to say that the City of Kingston's waterworks operations are subject to Ontario's Drinking Water Protection Regulation, which requires the frequent testing of drinking water for e.coli, coliforms, pesticides, volatiles and metals.

Kingston's water quality meets all of the standards under this regulation, which is one of the most stringent in North America to ensure safe drinking water. In addition, the Provincial Drinking Water Surveillance Program reported no health-related violations for Kingston from monitoring conducted since 1995.

In June 2001, the Ontario government proposed the Nutrient Management Act to address land applied materials containing nutrients, including livestock manure, commercial fertilizer, municipal biosolids, septage and industrial pulp and paper sludge. This proposed legislation includes a number of provisions for the development of clear, comprehensive standards for land-applied materials containing nutrients.

Recent inspections of Kingston's two sewage treatment plants determined that the discharges from the city's plants comply with provincial standards. Most importantly, Kingston's drinking water quality meets Ontario's tough standards.