OMWA - History

History of the Ontario Municipal Water Association (OMWA)

The Ontario Municipal Water Association is the voice of municipal public water supply in Ontario. Its members are public water supply owners and municipally owned operating authorities.

1966 - 1980’s

On October 13, 1966, a group of similarly interested water officials from 15 communities met in the London Hotel, London, Ontario, to discuss the idea of an organization for elected municipal officials who were involved with operating municipal water operations.

The first meeting was chaired by Elmo W. Curtis, Chairman of the London Public Utilities Commission. The following communities were represented; Ailsa Craig, Chatham, Grand Bend, Leamington, Parkhill, St.Thomas, Sarnia, Township of London, Sarnia, Port Stanley, Stratford, Strathroy and Watford.

On October 13, 1966 the following resolution was passed: "resolution to organize, with instructions a Steering Committee to consider and report before November 30, 1966 upon the best lines on which to institute an organization with respect to area water supply comparable to the Ontario Municipal Electrical Association”.

A Steering Committee was formed. The members of the Steering Committee were: C.C Calder, Chairman of the Steering Committee and Commissioner, London PUC; J.F. Curran, Deputy Commissioner of Works, City of Sarnia; Mayor G.R. Newkirk, Chatham; A.L. Furanno, General Manager of London PUC; P.R. Locke, Commissioner, St.Thomas PUC; Reeve H.R. Ward, Township of London; C. Honsberger, Chair, Pickering PUC; C.J. F. Ross, Commissioner London PUC, W. Sproule, Chairman, Brampton Board of Water Commissioners; E.W. Curtis, Chairman, London PUC; A.R. Moore, Chairman, Stratford PUC and R. Leslie, Chair, Leamington PUC.

A discussion took place at that meeting regarding whether or not sewerage should be included as well as water. It was concluded that the association should start out on the basis of dealing with water only, but with the intention to add sewerage at a later date.

It was moved by Mr. W. Sproule, seconded by Mr. R. Leslie, "that the name of the association be the Ontario Municipal Water Association".

Membership was open to Public Utilities Commissions, Committees of Council or other authorities appointed for the purpose of directing and operating local water authorities.

The initial annual membership fee ranged from $2.00 for a population of 5000 to $150.00 for a population of 200,000.On November 17, 1966 a meeting was held in the London Hotel, London, Ontario for the purpose of organizing the Ontario Municipal Water Association.

Mr. C.J.F. Ross QC, Vice Chairman of London Public Utilities Commission was elected as the first President of OMWA. The first Vice President was Harry Ward, 2nd Vice R. J. Sinclair and Secretary Treasurer was Mr. C.C. Calder. Other members of the Board were P.R. Locke, St.Thomas; V.T. Green, Brampton; R. Leslie, Leamington; N. Craig, Burlington; N. Grandfield, Brantford and D. J. Barlow, Windsor.

The first Constitution was adopted at the meeting of November 17, 1966.

The first annual meeting was held on March 20, 1967. One hundred and eighty-five delegates attended, representing municipalities from across Ontario and one municipality from Quebec.

At that meeting, on March 20, 1967, the first unofficial liaison with the Ontario Water Works Associations (which at that time was called the A.W.W.A. Canadian Section), took place. OMWA was formed because of the need to have an organization of elected personnel. In doing so, staff members were invited to become members along with the elected representatives, but staff members would not have voting privileges. The feeling was that the A.W.W.A. Canadian Section was well organized and able to look after the technical side of water.

On March 31, 1970, the Ontario Municipal Water Association held its 4th Annual meeting at the Royal York Hotel. At that meeting, Mr. D. Durward of the A.W.W.A., Ontario Branch, presented a report on the Branches activity.

He noted that many from OMWA attended their initial meeting at the Inn-on-the-Park in October 1969.It appears that this was the first meeting of a new Ontario Branch of AWWA. There were 102 delegates. He also noted that the Waterworks Equipment Association had carry-on displays that they hoped would continue in future years.

He reported that there were 500 Ontario members in the Canadian Section of AWWA and they were automatically members of the Ontario Branch. The Ontario Branch existed on a Canadian Section per capita grant of $2.00, annually, plus the surplus from the annual meeting.

According to the minutes of the meeting, the new Ontario Branch of AWWA had exploratory talks with the Liaison Committee of OMWA to hold a Joint Conference beginning in 1971. They felt it would reduce the number of meetings as well as produce a program geared to elect and management representatives.

The first Joint Annual meeting of the Ontario Municipal Water Association and the Ontario Section of the American Water Works Association was held on March 30, 1971 at the Royal York Hotel.

At the 2nd Annual Joint Annual meeting of the Ontario Municipal Water Association and the Ontario Section of the American Water Works Association was held on May 16, 1972, at the Sheraton-Brock Hotel, Niagara Falls. It was reported that greater co-operation with AWWA had been achieved through direct meetings of the respective executives as well as through the joint publication of the Ontario Pipeline Magazine.

In 1976, OMWA initiated and prepared a resolution respecting the establishment of Construction and Design Guidelines and Regulations by the Ministry in consultations with OMWA and AWWA. The resolution was endorsed by the AWWA, Ontario Section. This consultation between the two associations is still in effect.

In the waterworks industry, it had long been recognized that a systematic and understandable procedure for water rate making was needed. OMWA took up the challenge and with the assistance of a grant from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, hired a consultant, Mike Louden, to formulate a water rate structure. A committee, chaired by Neil Howson of Sault Ste. Marie, was formed to oversee the project. The committee appointed a task force consisting of Bob Goodings of Gore & Storrie, Andy Brodie of Brodie and Associates, Ray Cooper of OMWA along with Mike Louden. The final report, entitled, Water Rates in Ontario, Principles and Practices is still in use today.

Sometime during the late 1970’s or early 1980’s an OMWA/AWWA/MOE Liaison Committee was formed to act as the spokesperson for the municipal water supply authorities, to meet with government agencies for the improvement of municipal water supplies and to meet and co-operate with AWWA on matters of mutual interest. The committee lapsed in the early 1990’s, but was reconstituted after the Walkerton Tragedy when it was recognized by the province that insight and expertise from the public water supply sector was essential in ensuring the provision of a safe and reliable supply of drinking water in Ontario.

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