Protecting drinking water sources is an incredibly crucial step in producing clean, safe drinking water.
This session will explore different approaches to source water protection and the challenges of increased urbanization, a changing climate and creating a cooperative approach across municipal, provincial and even international borders.
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Register for this webinar or the entire seriesOur TopicsOliver Brandes, Polis
Towards Watershed Security – addressing source drinking water protection and watershed governance trends and opportunities from BC.
Nothing is more fundamental to Canada’s security and well-being than fresh water. Clean, abundant water and healthy, functioning watersheds are the fundamental basis of thriving and prosperous communities today and into the future. This vital resource, however, is under growing pressure. As uncertainty and instability mount, communities are bearing the costs and conflicts caused by increasing droughts, floods, fires, and watershed degradation.
This presentation will explore a recent drinking water source contamination conflict and crisis in the Hullcar aquifer and demonstrate how the response by government offers insight on how to advance a more systematic and wholistic approach to source drinking water protection across the province and offering lessons across Canada. A key consideration to a comprehensive approach is to fundamentally addresses issues of watershed governance and better integrate water into a modernized land use planning and resource management regime. Beyond the specific case study of the Hullcar aquifer this presentation will draw on recent substantive POLIS research reports – Towards Watershed Security: The Role of Water in Modernized Land Use Planning and Watershed Agenda for British Columbia – to draw out insights and practical direction to fulfil the promise of a more sustainable water future in Canada and beyond. Steph Neufeld, EPCOR
EPCOR’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for the Edmonton Drinking Water and Collection System
Climate change will generate a number of challenges that will test the resiliency of EPCOR’s people, operations, and infrastructure. In the City of Edmonton, this challenge is centered around the North Saskatchewan River (NSR) and its watershed. The NSR is the sole source of water that EPCOR treats and distributes to over 1 million customers in the watershed, and it is also the receiving environment for the discharges from both the drainage system and our wastewater treatment plant. By the year 2050, climate change models for the NSR watershed predict that air temperatures will increase by 1.3 to 4.9 °C and average annual precipitation will increase by 5.9 to 43.8%. High intensity storms are predicted to become more frequent; there will be increased precipitation in winter and spring and decreased precipitation in the summer and fall; more precipitation will fall as rain as opposed to snow; and spring runoff will arrive sooner. These climatic changes will alter: the function and structure of the watershed, the flow and quality of water in the NSR, water demand, and storm water runoff patterns. EPCOR will be required to adapt to these changes and has therefore developed a North Saskatchewan River Climate Change and Adaptation Strategy. EPCOR’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy is based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) document titled: “Adaptation Strategy Guide for Water Utilities” (EPA 2015). The EPA document was developed specifically to provide guidance and adaptation options to drinking water, wastewater and stormwater utilities to address climate change. In our presentation we will discuss specific adaptation strategies and strategic actions that fit under the broad categories of ecosystem and land use, modeling, monitoring, and water demand. Further we will discuss how how these strategic actions are nested within other planning frameworks such as total loadings management, source water protection, integrated resource plans, and other long-term plans.Mary Wooding, Province of Ontario, Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and Tessa Di Iorio City of Ottawa
Ontario Source Protection Approach
One of our primary needs is clean, safe drinking water. The current COVID-19 pandemic has reminded all of us how important it is to safeguard our health. Twenty years ago, a public health tragedy that struck one of our Ontario communities underscored the significance of prevention as the first principle in the safeguarding of our drinking water for our communities, and we reflect on the vast improvements made since then.
In May 2000, a municipal well in Walkerton became contaminated with a deadly bacteria. Seven people died due to the contamination, and many residents were left with severe long-term illnesses. The Government of Ontario established a public inquiry into the drinking water tragedy, led by Justice Dennis O’Conner. He developed 121 recommendations that became the building blocks of today’s multi-barrier framework for drinking water protection in Ontario. Passing of the Clean Water Act legislation directly fulfills 12 of Justice O’Connor recommendations and supports 22 other recommendations in the report. Since the Walkerton water tragedy there is much we have learned and accomplished. We know that protecting our drinking water is a vital and shared ongoing responsibility – and it starts at the water source. Today, Ontario has a comprehensive science-based drinking water protection framework from source to tap that is looked to as an example by other jurisdictionsMarie Claude Besner, Ville de Montreal
Vulnerability assessment for source water protection in Montreal
Source water protection is a critical component of a multi-barrier approach to protect drinking water. As such, it has been integrated into regulatory approaches in several jurisdictions over the last years. In the province of Quebec (Canada), the Ministry of the Environment has issued its regulation for source water protection in 2014. Vulnerability assessments of groundwater and surface water intakes must be conducted by municipalities with reports to be submitted by April 2021.
The City of Montreal supplies drinking water to a population of 2 million through six drinking water treatment plants using surface water as their source.
The main elements required by the provincial regulation include for each site: (i) delimitation of intake protection zones (IPZ), (ii) calculation of six indicators based on water quality data, and (iii) assessment of the vulnerability of the intake based on the inventory of human activities, land use and potential events likely to affect the quality and quantity of the water used for the withdrawal. The approach put forward by the Ministry is to perform the inventory of activities within the IPZ, which are in fact defined as strips of land along the water body based on the type of waterbody (ex. 120 m wide by 15 km long). However, this approach is hardly applicable in highly urbanized areas where sewersheds are better fitted for inventories. The approach used by the City of Montreal will be presented.