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New rules draining city coffers.

New enforceable safe drinking water regulations drafted in haste following the Walkerton tragedy have northern municipal leaders wondering how they are going to pay for it all.

They are also wondering how the new regulations will affect the North's tourism operators, considering many of their facilities have private water systems.

"The Walkerton tragedy has given us the political will to confront major problems that have been building up for the past 20 years," says Nicola Grawhall, senior policy advisor for the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).

Crawhall made a presentation on managing drinking water in the wake of Walkerton at the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) meeting on April 25 in Thunder Bay.

Regulation 459 requires that all water systems, public or private, that supply drinking water to more than five households, must meet the same requirements. Trailer parks, cottages, municipalities are all now meeting the same regulation.

Reports mat Folyet, 100 Kilometres west of Timmins, is facing bankruptcy trying to meet new water-safety standards, brought the safewater issue into focus for many Northern Ontario municipalities.

Folyet, with 300 people, and no taxing powers, is required under the regulation to have its water tested four times a year at $1,000 per test. The community owes $20,000, and months ago its bank overdraft was nearing $5,000.

Crawhawl says people on private systems are facing the highest costs.

Following the Walkerton tragedy, the provincial government committed $240 million for waterworks over five years, and the federal government pledged to match the province's funding.

Full cost recovery that is required under Bill 155 is causing smaller communities concern. Their municipal politicians are requesting taxpayer money because their customers must bear a greater burden as a result of the cost of upgrades and treatment due to the low number of water users.

A number of other safe water regulations are proving costly for municipalities, including reporting, certification, enforcement and training of waterworks employees.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:regulations for drinking water
Author:Lynch, Michael
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2002
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