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.

1988 - 2000

In September 1988, Mr. A. Furanna, the first secretary, announced that he was retiring from OMWA. On December 19, 1988 Don Black, former General Manager of Waterloo North Hydro, accepted the position of Secretary Treasurer, effective, January 1; 1989. On November 13, 1990 the title Secretary Treasurer was changed to Executive Director which the Board of Directors thought better reflected the responsibilities of the position.

In January, 1989 OMWA purchased its first computer, a "state of the art model” for $3200.00.

In the 1990’s OMWA continued to recommend low cost loans for water infrastructure, full cost accounting, including a uniform accounting system, water revenues dedicated to water operations and meaningful public input. OMWA also strongly believed that it was not in the best interests of the water customers or municipal taxpayers to privatize public water services. Most of these key positions have been voiced by OMWA as early as the 1970’s.

The 1990’s were turbulent years for the public water industry and for OMWA. In 1994, the Pilkey Report on Special Purpose Bodies was examined with special attention to Chapter Seven, which recommended the take over of public utilities commissions where it was convenient, or the assumption of political control when a takeover is not convenient. The recommendations were made without benefit of cost studies, service studies, consumer input or an understanding of the water works industry in Ontario.

In 1994, the Board of Directors felt that utility managers and senior staff were a resource the Board should use more extensively. Two managers, one from east and one from the west, were added as fully participating, non-voting members.

In January 1996, OMWA prepared a brief clearly stating their concerns on the contents of Bill 26, The Savings and Restructuring Act 1996.The brief was submitted to the Standing Committee on General Government.

On December 3, 1996, OMWA held a press conference to express their concerns about privatization of water services. OMWA spokespersons were Dick Beck, Don Stanton and the Executive Director Don Black. It was covered extensively by the media. It was OMWA’s belief that as a result of this press conference that a clause was added to the Water and Sewage Improvement Act that prevents a municipality from selling its water and sewage works to the private sector unless it first repays any provincial capital grants received since 1978.

As a result of the government activities regarding the public water sector, OMWA prepared a number of briefs and publications including Ontario’s Water Industry-Models for the 21st Century, Ontario’s Water Industry-New Legislative Framework, The Electricity Competition Act-Implications for Water Utilities and Ontario’s Water Utilities-Governance Models.

In 1996, the membership of OMWA passed a resolution that stated "water quality from the tap depends on the quality of the "raw water” at the intake” and that the control and reduction of the pollutants at source is generally cheaper and more effective than the increasingly complex method of treatment.

In May 1998 reorganization took place to strengthen OMWA for the future. The Board of Directors had to come from a public water authority and all would have full voting privileges. The Board would consist of 10 political representatives, five from the west and 5 from the east. There would also be 6 staff representatives, 3 from the west and three from the east. The President and Vice President would always be a political person, thereby ensuring that OMWA would remain a political organization.

In May 1999 Don Black retired as Executive Director and was replaced by Jim Craig, a water professional, recently retired from the Peterborough Utilities Commission.

2000 - 2006   2006 - 2013   TODAY