President’s message, spring 2019

New councils, new challenges

Ontario’s new councils face new challenges in 2019. Under the proposed Bill 66, changes to the Planning Act and other legislation will have wide-ranging effects on municipal planning, development and growth. Several of those proposed changes could present significant challenges and even threats to maintaining our drinking water safety. The Ontario government has also announced a review of regional governments across the province, suggesting changes in governance and even amalgamation. These could affect how municipalities manage and deliver services.

On top of that, new technologies are being developed to handle emerging problems like microplastics and pharmaceuticals in our water.

Everyone involved in the oversight and maintenance of our water and wastewater systems – both elected officials and staff – needs to stay up-to-date and informed to be ready to adapt and change to accommodate both legislative and technological developments. Peer support and cooperation are more important than ever.

The OMWA’s upcoming 2019 Educations Days in Barrie, Sudbury, and Niagara Falls offer effective opportunities for staff and elected officials to network, to learn, and to share their ideas with peers from around the province. Please visit our events page to find out how you can participate, register, and stay current on changes that affect your own water systems.

Developing and writing effective standard operating procedures

Developing and writing effective standard operating procedures

 Part two: When Should SOPs Be Written?

Ken MacDonnellBy Ken MacDonnell, P. Eng.
Professor, Fleming College

Assuming you already have an SOP development program in place (see part 1), then it is a question of setting a priority for the SOPs to be developed.

A hierarchy of procedures will determine the order of development starting with procedures that represent an activity with a substantial risk of impacting either the health and safety of employees or the public. Even after all SOPs have been developed and implemented, there is still work to be done with respect to procedures:

  • New employees should be properly trained on Standard Operating Procedures (do not inundate them with all SOPs and expect full understanding).
  • Review of existing SOPs every three years (at a minimum) to ensure they are still relevant and reflect how the task is being done. Just like you need to update your MSDS sheets every three years, your procedures should not be any different. If changes are made to a procedure, don’t forget to document the change and make sure that all copies are also changed.
  • New equipment / chemicals / etc. may require a change in SOPs. If you make a change from Alum to PACl as your coagulant, it will likely mean that the operational set points will also change. This must be reflected in all SOPs affected by this change and this must be done immediately.

If you do not currently have a comprehensive SOP program, then it is imperative that you begin to develop a program.
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President’s message, winter 2018

Fake news and water governance

It may be the norm for election campaigns at every level for candidates or their followers to stretch the truth, but in the last few years, this has become dangerously exaggerated. Especially on social media, fake news or ‘alternate facts’ spread very rapidly, leaving voters confused as to what the truth is about with any issue.

When it comes to water governance, that’s not simply inconvenient: it can be dangerous and life-threatening. And for elected officials who have come to office not knowing or understanding the facts about their water services and safety, it can lead to bad policy decisions and personal liability.

For elected officials, being fully educated in the responsibilities and requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act (2002) is crucial to avoiding not simply problems, but severe penalties for failure to do their due diligence as required by provincial law. And under the Standard of Care in the Act, elected officials are personally responsible for their municipality’s water.
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President’s message, summer 2018

It sometimes seems that every week a challenge to our drinking water emerges. How can you stay informed about the threats and solutions? Easily – if you’re an OMWA member. We keep members informed about water-related issues and events through our twice-weekly newswire, through our website, and in our upcoming Education Days.

Challenges can come from unexpected sources. Like our clothes and household cleansers. We’ve reported many stories about microplastics and nanoplastics – microscopic bits of non-degradable plastic that scientists now realize pervade our environment.

They’re a new and difficult challenge for water professionals.

Plastic is so ubiquitous that it finds its way into everything around us, even our drinking water. One study found plastic in 85 per cent of tap water samples taken from a dozen countries (in the USA researchers found plastic in 94 per cent of their samples).

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Political parties respond on water issues

In May, 2018, the Ontario Municipal Water Association sent emails to all four main political parties in the upcoming provincial election.  We asked them to answer several questions related to their party’s policies regarding water and infrastructure, in order to better educate our members for the election.

Of the four parties, the Green Party, the Liberals and the NDP acknowledged our request. The Progressive Conservatives did not. However, only the Green Party and NDP responded with answers. Their replies are linked to PDF files, below.

Here is what the OMWA asked:

  1. Does your party have a policy for water management in Ontario, and if so can you please provide a copy of your statement to share with our members.
  2. Does your party policy include provisions for:
    • Stormwater management?
    • Backflow prevention?
    • Managing Lead levels in drinking water?
    • Microplastics in water and the environment?
    • Climate change mitigation?
    • Controlling Inflow & Infiltration to reduce wastewater spills & bypassing?
    • First Nations’ water issues?
  3. Does your party have plans for helping Ontario municipal water suppliers sustainably maintain and improve their water infrastructure? If so, please provide your policy statements to share with our members.

Answers as provided follow.
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Electricity, natural gas and water reporting

Did you know?

Electricity, natural gas and water utilities are required to give building owners who request it aggregated monthly data for their building’s electricity, water and/or natural gas use.

Ontario Regulation 20/17, Reporting of Energy Consumption and Water Use, outlines what building owners and utilities must do to comply with Ontario’s Large Building Energy and Water Reporting and Benchmarking (EWRB) initiative.

 How and what to report

To see the types of buildings that are subject to the reporting requirements, and the data building owners will need to report, visit ontario.ca/energyreporting.

If you have questions about the EWRB initiative, please call 1-844-274-0689 or email EWRBSupport@ontario.ca.

 

Nick Benkovich given George Warren Fuller Award

Niagara Falls, ON, May 1, 2018: Nick Benkovich was named as the winner of the George Warren Fuller award, presented by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) at Ontario’s Water Convention, in Niagara Falls, today.

George Warren Fuller Awards are presented annually by the American Water Works Association to the sections’ respective selected members for their distinguished service to the water supply field in commemoration of the sound engineering skill, the brilliant diplomatic talent, and the constructive leadership which characterized the life of George Warren Fuller. The recipients of the George Warren Fuller Awards are selected by the individual sections of the Association from among their own members to recognize publicly the contribution toward the advancement of water works practice.

Sudbury-born Nick Benkovich retired from his long-time position as Director of Water & Wastewater Services for the City of Greater Sudbury at the end of December, 2017. He also stepped down from his position as director on the Ontario Municipal Water Association board at that time. He had been on the board since 2004, and served as its president in 2008.
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