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Tottenham’s water – a Federal election issue

September 20, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Wendy Gabrek

On September 6, the newly formed group “Tottenham-water”, released the following statement to local media, titled: “Trihalomethane in Drinking Water is a Federal Election Issue”:

Trihalomethane levels in Tottenham’s drinking water have exceeded allowable limits for 10 years.

Tottenham-water asks all candidates in the federal election for the riding of Simcoe-Grey to declare their position on the following actions to address trihalomethane contamination of Tottenham’s drinking water.

• Federal funding for an independent health study to determine the impact on Tottenham residents of long-term exposure to Trihalomethanes in Tottenham’s municipal water supply.

• Federal Funding to implement a permanent solution which may include Reverse Osmosis or other proven filtration or proven water servicing options for all wells in the Town of Tottenham (within the amalgamated Town of New Tecumseth).

Tottenham-water is contacting all candidates in the Federal Election in the riding of Simcoe–Grey to meet with us and interested members of the community to discuss the issue.

Tottenham-water is non-partisan grass-roots community group advocating to address the trihalomethane contamination in Tottenham’s drinking water. We believe everyone is entitled to clean drinking water.

Tottenham-water will not endorse any candidates, but will make public the responses of all candidates on this issue.

In response to their release, and a full-day information session at Tottenham Home Hardware – from open to close on Saturday, September 7 (where Tottenham-water members were on hand to answer questions, provide links to their online survey as well as paper copies to fill out) The Times reached out with a few questions of our own, here is the reply:

1. Why Home Hardware? 

Tottenham Water has launched our Tottenham Water Survey, and we are looking for ways to promote it to residents and businesses that use Tottenham Municipal Water.  We asked both Home Hardware and Foodland if we could place our business cards at their check out counters and if they would allow us to promote the survey to residents in front of their businesses at some point.  Tottenham Home Hardware was incredibly supportive.  Immediately we were able to place our cards at their store and then we were given the opportunity to promote the survey in front of the store all day on Saturday.  Tottenham Home Hardware has always been so supportive of our residents, and once again they stepped up to the plate. 

2. How many people attended Saturday’s event at HH?

Hard to say how many came by. We were too focused on talking with residents than keeping count. Hard copies of the survey were available, but most people took a card and a pamphlet so they could do it online on our website at

3. What were the main topics of concern as heard first hand through attending residents?

The main topics of concern are always trihalomethane levels, iron levels and chlorine levels. As well, the fact that The Town of New Tecumseth, Simcoe–Muskoka Public Health, the Ministry of the Environment, our MP, our MPP and our County have done nothing until very recently to address the issues with our water.

4. Will a document be released with the findings from Saturday – and to whom will it be sent?

We will share the results of our survey at a town meeting being put on by Tottenham Water in November.

5. As the water issue has been ongoing for some time now, why formalize a group now?

We formalized our group in June of 2016. So, we are not new. We persevered because we knew how important it was to try to ensure that every resident knows about and understands the issues. We were never informed by the Town that there were issues with Tottenham’s Municipal water. After years of work we are now validated by the Wellington Water Watchers who have been battling Neslé’s water taking.

6. What outcome are you expecting from your work?

As far as the survey, we are very interested in disease and illness statistics in Tottenham compared to other places. That and the financial and mental/emotional toll our water issues have taken on our residents. And as a result of the work of our group, we expect safe, clean, potable water available as soon as possible for the residents of Tottenham.

“The story of the outbreak involves much more than a description of the clinical symptoms of the illnesses, the medical treatment, and the numbers of people who became ill and died. Most important are the stories of the suffering endured by those who were infected; the anxiety of their families, friends, and neighbours; the losses experienced by those whose loved ones died; and the uncertainty and worry about why this happened and what the future would bring,” Honourable Dennis R. O’Connor – Excerpt from The Report of the Walkerton Inquiry.

7. What solutions are you proposing? How would they be financed?

Many people have asked this question. However, we are not hydrogeologists, we are not paid by anyone and the no level of government cares to discuss this with us. But it is not unfair, after all these years of being forced to use water that is not potable, to expect that each residence be provided with regulated and monitored home filtration until a permanent fix is in place. And before that, we expect free water from regulated and maintained water fill stations. We pay the same rates as the rest of New Tecumseth for water that is not deemed potable according to the Ontario Safe Drinking Water Act. This is a basic human right, according to the United Nations, that has been denied the residents here. We would expect that several hydrogeologists be hired to advise the town on the best way to deal with Tottenham’s water issues. The town is putting in aeration, which is not going to solve our issues. It is unproven and does not deal with chlorine and iron problems. The pipeline “is coming”, even though Collingwood is not able to filter enough water for Tottenham. But we will pay millions to whoever builds it, just for it to remain empty. All of this should be financed by the Municipal, the Provincial and the Federal levels of government. They all need to chip in for a solution.

8. Has there been a documented case of illness from the water quality in Tottenham, ON?

A documented case would mean that someone has been tracking disease and illness in Tottenham, as related to our water quality issues. So far, this has not happened despite requests. If governments keep saying the water is safe, then there is no need to track it. This is why we are asking Tottenham Municipal residents to fill out our survey online or they can pick one up and drop one off at the Tottenham Library. But many studies have been done about Trihalomethanes, Chlorine, Iron Bacteria, and their effects on human health. Some of the potential issues include: liver and kidney disease/cancer. Miscarriage, stillbirth, breast cancer, infertility, bladder and colon cancer, pneumonia and Legionnaire’s Disease.

9. Where can Tottenham residents go to get daily/weekly/monthly reports on their water quality and details on what that means to them?

Yearly drinking water reports are available on the New Tecumseth website; And recently, monthly reports are provided here;  In order to understand what they mean, I would urge residents to sign up for our updates at and click on “Get Involved”, in order to follow coming actions and meetings. And the website explains most, if not all, of what is going on…

“All Federal Candidates are being urged to contact Tottenham Water to set up meetings with residents of Tottenham to discuss what the Federal Government can do to assist us in obtaining our Basic Human Right within Canada,” said Tottenham water representative, Nancy McBride.

For more information contact Tottenham-water ~, or reach Nancy McBride or Cheryl Anne Schmidt at 416-888-0413 or by email to

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