Water for schools, nursing homes under strict scrutiny.

 

TORONTO — A new drinking water regulation in Ontario will place strict requirements on schools, day nurseries, nursing and retirement homes and social and

healthcare facilities that have their own water supply system, officials said.

The regulation applies to systems that do not fall under the existing Drinking Water Protection Regulation, Environment Minister Elizabeth Witmer said.

The new Drinking Water Protection Regulation for Smaller Waterworks Serving Designated Facilities is the next step in Operation Clean Water,

the government's province-wide effort to improve water quality and delivery in Ontario, she said. The institutions subject to the regulation house seniors

and children, two groups that are typically less resistant to contaminants and have a higher health risk.

All affected facilities will have to meet the strict testing requirements 60 days after the new regulation comes into effect, she said.

"Many of our facilities serving children and seniors in Ontario have their own water systems. We need to make sure that water is clean and safe," said Witmer.

The new regulation follows feedback from the Ministry of the Environment received during extensive consultation with stakeholders and the public.

The ministry considered all public comments posted to the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry before finalizing the regulation, officials said.

The new rules require: regular testing, analysis and a minimum level of drinking water treatment; immediate notification of health

and environment ministry authorities by both the water system's owner and the laboratory in the event of an adverse water quality

sample; annual reports to consumers and users by the system's owner; public release of lab testing results and annual reports;

posted warnings if sampling and analysis requirements are not met or if water use should be stopped.

The government said it will provide facilities with information needed to comply with the new requirements. It will also provide

the owners and operators of small facilities not covered by regulations, such as cottages, homes, gas stations and some camp

and playgrounds, with the information they need to ensure clean, safe drinking water.

In addition, the Ministry of Education has consulted with school boards affected by the regulation and is investing nearly $13 million

to help various schools meet the requirements of the regulation.  The ministries of Community and Social Services and Health and

Long Term Care will also be working closely with their stakeholders on the implementation of this new regulation, officials said.

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Edited from Tech Bank 12/31/01