Tag Archives: water

I’m Chair of the Grand River Conservation Authority!

Just elected Chair of the Grand River Conservation Authority. But what is the GRCA, you ask and what does it do?

Here is the answer right from the website: “The Grand River flows 300 kilometres through southwestern Ontario from the highlands of Dufferin County to Port Maitland on Lake Erie.

The Grand River Conservation Authority manages water and other natural resources on behalf of 38 municipalities and close to one million residents.”

If you live in Southern Ontario you may know the GRCA best through it’s many parks such as Elora, Pinehurst, Rockwood and Byng Island. World wide you may know of it through its world class fly fishing.

http://www.grandriver.ca  A great website that includes realtime water flows.

Here are some of the issues facing the GRCA, that I raised during my acceptance speech.

The GRCA is a Canadian Heritage River and won the Theiss Riverprize as one of the best managed watersheds in the world. We have excellent staff who work hard with limited resources to keep our river system sound.

The health of our river system both in water quantity and quality is a pressing issue as we prepare for the effects of climate change and population growth.

Staff and stakeholders are presently working on the Grand River Watershed Management Plan and  Source Water Protection is moving ahead. We must remain vigilant that it includes a strong mandate to improve the health and safety of our river system. 

Climate change, as we can see from other places in the world, should concern us all. We need to make sure our governments understand the dangers of ignoring our infrastructure of  dams and flood controls. Population growth means more sewage with its problems. 

The next four years will bring continuing concerns about our budget .  We need more money from other levels of government as well as a hard look at our own budget.  We cannot protect the watershed without a viable budget.

The GRCA is now on Twitter and Facebook and we have many publications and contacts with the media. But more needs to be done to raise our profile and get our residents to understand the importance of the river  and our environment and the importance of our expensive water and wastewater systems. I have attended meetings on water with my constituents and have had to remind them that the Grand River is not the polluted river of the past.  One of the ways we can do this is by involving the public in our Strategic Planning Process.

Our Strategic planning process is key for the next four years. To simply lower or raise our budget is not enough. We need to have defined goals and objectives for the watershed, then a plan to fund it.  Not only do we need to hear from staff, board members, the public and stakeholders but we also must have ways of reporting back and measuring our success in meeting our outcomes. I have several ideas on how this may be done, as I know many of you do also.

Together we can keep the GRCA one of the best managed watersheds in the world.

Flouride again: Legality and pump breakdowns

I was at Scott Witmer’s ward meeting and several constituents were worried about Carole Clinch’s claim that the Region of Waterloo is illegally adding flouride to the municipal water. I will give staff’s response in a moment.

First, the big article in the Chronicle about the flouride pumps breaking down and flouride not being added to the Waterloo Water for six months. Staff (Water and Public Health) was supposed to tell us about this when the problem passed 90 days.

This was all dealt with by council last November and hands were slapped. New communication protocols between Water Services and Public Health have been put in place to prevent this communication breakdown from happening again.

No secrets, no need for an access to information request for staff e-mails.

Once again, I point out that the Ministry of Enviroment closely checks Regional water and any problem with bacteria, etc. must be reported immediately to them. A fine for the only breach, a 48 hour pump of unchlorinated water into Cambridge water a few years ago.The problem has been fixed. The water itself was as pure as bottled water, but nevertheless. 

We actually had a report at Planning and Works this week about a survey and test of local private homeowner wells (people not getting muncipal water). About half had bacteria in them or nitrites.


Anyway, here is the staff response to the illegality of flouride and the federal Ministry of Health.

Hello Jane
Here is an extract from the health Canada website on their role with respect to water Quality.
“Water QualityClean water is essential to life. Our health and well-being depend on it.
In Canada, all levels of government play a role to make sure our water supplies are safe. While provincial and territorial governments are generally in charge of making sure our water supplies are safe, the federal government has a number of responsibilities in this area.
Health Canada’s Role
Health Canada is involved in many activities related to water quality, including:

Developing national drinking water guidelines with provincial and territorial drinking water authorities
Providing emergency advice in cases of drinking water contamination, when requested by another government department or agency
Developing guidelines for water used for recreational activities, such as lakes where people swim
Ensuring the safety of drinking water on cruise ships, airlines, passenger ferries, trains, and other common carriers
Working with other departments to make sure all federal government employees have access to safe drinking water in their workplaces
Working with First Nations communities south of 60 degrees parallel to ensure that drinking water quality monitoring programs are in place on their lands
Regulating the safety and quality of bottled water, prepackaged ice, and water used in food processing
Working in collaboration with partners and stakeholders on broader water quality issues, including the development of water policies and research priorities”

Use of hydrofluorosilicic is not illegal. The province sets standards for fluoride and the Region’s certificate of approval includes the use of hydrofluorosilicic acid. 

The Waterloo Article speaks about the food and drug act and the requirements under it.  Municipal drinking water is not regulated under the food and drug act. Another quote from Health Canada .

“While bottled water is regulated federally as a food the tap water distributed by municipalities is regulated by the appropriate province or territory. However, Health Canada is involved in the development of the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. These Guidelines are developed through the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water which includes members from the provinces, territories and Health Canada’s Healthy Environment and Consumer Safety Branch. They contain guidelines for microbiological, chemical, physical and radiological contaminants. For each contaminant, the Guidelines establish the maximum acceptable concentration of the substance that can be permitted in water used for drinking. They are used by the provinces and territories as the basis for their own drinking water standards.”

The provisions of the Food and drug act wouldn’t be applicable to municipal drinking water.

 Actually, the provisions of the Food and Drug act that cover bottled water are LESS stringent than the provincial regulations for municipal water.

Not saying how you should vote in the referendum, just trying to keep information correct.



The Fluoride Plebiscite

At risk of attracting tons of anti-fluoride comments, I feel I must give some info about the Fluoride Plebiscite for the 2010 Municipal Election in Waterloo.

The City of Waterloo has had several plebiscites over the years asking if the people still want to continue the fluoridation of the water. The last referendum was in the 1980s when the constituents said they wanted to continue with fluoridation.

The question came up again in the last few years with concerns from some citizens about fluoride. The City of Waterloo asked the Region of Waterloo which now looks after adding fluoride to the city’s water to have a plebiscite on the fluoride issue. (Yeah, I know, our two levels of government can be complicated if you don’t live with it!)

The answer to the question is for the people of Waterloo, Elmira, St. Jacobs and a small part of the Townships and small part of Kitchener to decide.

Here is the Region report on the question: http://bit.ly/dvlkr2

The question, which will be passed on Wednesday, will then go for review by the province  then be included on the 2010 Municipal election ballot. It will say:

“Should the Region of Waterloo fluoridate your municipal water?

Yes or No”


Because we are following the Municipal Act and the answer will be for the public to decide, there will be no more delegations allowed at Region on this topic until after October 25, election day, once the motion is passed on Wednesday. Those for or against must sign up like candidates to give out information on the topic. They may then have brochures, websites, door to door, forums like a candidate. Only the polls where the water is fluoridated will get the ballot question.

Regional council passed a special resolution saying that even if the voter turnout is under 50% , a requirement for passage under the Municipal Act (Hasn’t been anywhere near that yet), we will abide by the results of the plebiscite. The flouride will be turned off or kept on by the present council as the cost of turning it off is below the monetary number needed to forbid a “lame duck” council from acting. In other words, this council, not the next elected one will decide.

I have several reasons for supporting the present wording.
Using the word “fluoridate”:
The delegations want the use of the word, “hydrofluorosilicic acid”(HFSA) the compound presently used to fluoridate the City of Waterloo’s water. The problem is, there are several different forms of fluoride used to treat water. There are various kinds of compounds. The City of Brantford uses a  dry form of fluoride with a different name. There is also sodium fluoride that is added to water. From the presentation of a delegation, curiously for using the words HFSA in the question, here are some of the names used for compounds of fluoride:


Dihydrogen hexafluorosilicate, FKS, Fluorosilicic Acid [H2SiF6],Fluosilicic acid (6CI), Hexafluorosilicic acid, Hexafluorosilicate (2-),dihydrogen,Hexafluosilicic acid, Hydrofluorosilicic acid, Hydrogen hexafluorosilicate,Hydrogen hexafluorosilicic, Hydrosilicofluoric acid, Sand acid,Silicate (2-), hexafluoro-, dihydrogen (8CI, 9CI), Silicic acid [H2SiF6],Silicofluoric acid, Silicofluoride, Silicon hexafluoride dihydride, UN1778

If HFSA was rejected by the public, Council could say “Well then, we’ll use this other form.”  Robert Fleming in his presentation noted he was just as against the other form used in Brantford. Sodium Fluoride is full of salt. Calcium fluoride, the natural form of fluoridation that is found in Cambridge is very expensive and difficult to add.

The second reason I want “fluoridate” is that two to three years ago when people first began to approach me about this issue, they were against fluoride generally. In fact, at our meeting, two people came forward with concerns about fluoride generally. One was a woman concerned it made her illness worse and I have heard this concern from several people about several different illnesses.

Her husband feels a rash was caused by fluoride, so that is why I support using “municipal” instead of “drinking” in the wording. Bathing, brushing teeth and washing clothes have all been brought forward as concerns.

By the way, for those of you who feel fluoride is a good public health measure that prevents cavities and does not cause other problems, I am not necessarily agreeing with the delegations, just pointing out concerns raised.

Finally, I do not agree with putting that Waterloo water contains, “lead, arsenic, mercury, or  that the water is radioactive” on the ballot question. It biases the question. Also lead occurs in small amounts in water when pipes are old. Waterloo water is tested for purity and is double and triple checked by the province since the Walkerton scandal and  the water is shut down when any problem occurs. Any arsenic is a trace amount, that means it is so small that the amount is negligable. Do you really think that Public Health, Regional staff and your elected councillors are poisoning your water?


http://bit.ly/b1ejq8 Minutes of public meetings on fluoridation and handouts. (I love how open the Region is with information!)

http://bit.ly/c6F0Kc  Public Health Fact Sheet on fluoride. Public Health is at arms length from the Region on health issues. They will not be participating in the debate.

http://bit.ly/9EbWLJ  Water quality reports.