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Public’s water questions continue as Council moves reservoir alteration

May 3, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Kira Wronska Dorward

Discourse on Tottenham’s water continued Monday, April 29, at the Committee of the Meeting of the Whole with the motion regarding the Mill Street Reservoir Alteration System.

This system alteration is projected to yield an up to 40% reduction in THM (trihalomethane) levels. Councillor Lacey moved to expedite the motion, which was immediately seconded by Councillor Beattie.

Resident Nancy McBride took the podium to discuss her misgivings.

“I find it all very interesting that I spent the past three years arguing with Council and others in Tottenham…and now to read this from the Ministry [of Health] asking the Town to do something with the THM levels…we’re going to spend a lot of money on something that is ‘fine’ again [when] there are real issues to be addressed.”

McBride went on to ask Council directly whether or not THM testing of Tottenham water had been done prior to or during the April 15 flushing, where they tested at a level of 74.

Staff answered that testing had taken place during flushing of the system. McBride further inquired why residents had not been alerted to the ongoing flushing, and that it was “up for question when THMs were tested” during this process, intimating that results may not be accurate or consistent.

Staff went on to add that two things were happening under the new Master Plan for Tottenham’s irrigation: there was now sequestering of water supply and chlorination points had been moved to work in conjunction with each other. When again addressed by McBride as to whether either of these things impacted or addressed the iron problem, where bacteria hides in iron agents, staff replied that it did not.

Had the Town been offered a solution from the Walkerton Clean Water Centre, inquired McBride. Staff replied that the Walkerton Centre had presented more long-term solutions, and the Town had instead moved forward with the Master Plan presented by B. V. Anderson.

McBride, enthusiastic on this subject, asked why the Town no longer reported running averages for THMs, and why it had moved to a yearly reporting system, whereas before it had been reporting quarterly every quarter.

She argued that this was a total level, not specific, and that the Town was failing to test known high THM areas.

Staff explained that with the new plan, multiple sampling locations, especially at the extremities of the system, the results in future will be more comprehensive and give a better idea of the overall water quality.

McBride’s final comment was the she fundamentally disagreed with B.V. Anderson’s suggestion of running taps near development sites for extended periods to reduce THM levels, citing Canada’s water conservation policies. “But that’s just me,” she concluded.

Next to the podium was Janice Hutchinson, who wanted to know if the pipeline was going to be completely replaced. Staff responded that only part of the pipeline would be replaced as part of the proposed solution.

Lorrie Neville, who opened with a comment about her surprise with New Tecumseth’s 60,000 person population increase, went onto say that she had her own water privately tested as of April 23, and the results were at 89 THMs.

“When for my health should I not drink the water?” she asked, alluding to the increased level of THMs during the summer months.

Staff responded that “there really isn’t any time when you shouldn’t drink your water”, that levels were compliant with Ministry of Health standards at any time of year.

In response to a personal inquiry about drinking the water in conjunction with chemotherapy and other treatments, staff responded that Neville should consult with her physician. Council voted and the motion was carried unanimously


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