The Part II Order Request Letter
October 31, 2016
Honourable Glen R. Murray
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
Ferguson Block 11th Floor
77 Wellesley Street
Toronto, Ontario, M7A 2T5
Honourable Minister Glen R. Murray,
Proponent: The Town of New Tecumseth
Project: New Tecumseth Water Supply, Distribution and Storage Master Plan
I am formally requesting a Part II Order that requires The Town of New Tecumseth to undergo an individual environmental assessment.
The nature of the specific environmental concerns that remain unresolved pertains to the past, present and future water quality in the village of Tottenham in The Town of New Tecumseth as it relates to Trihalomethanes, Iron, Lead and Chlorine.
The benefits of requiring The Town of New Tecumseth to undertake an individual environmental assessment are many. Firstly, the Trihalomethane issue we have dealt with for well over 16 years can be investigated. Trihalomethanes are carcinogens. The town and the Chief Medical Officer of The Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit neglected to inform the residents of Tottenham of consistently above maximum National standard levels of trihalomethanes in the water supply. As is indicated in Ontario’s Taking Care of Your Drinking Water: A Guide for Members of Municipal Councils(https://www.ontario.ca/page/taking-care-your-drinking-water-guide-members-municipal-councils), in the case of a Drinking Water Advisory (DWA), such as elevated levels of Trihalomethanes, “the local Medical Officer of Health will direct the system owner to inform users of the advisory, through means such as door-to-door notification, public posting of notices and local media outlets, to boil water and/or use an alternate water supply until further notice. An advisory will be lifted only after the local Medical Officer of Health is satisfied that corrective actions were taken and the situation is remedied.”
A second benefit of an individual environmental assessment for Tottenham would mean an investigation into the incredibly high levels of iron in the water. The iron makes our water brown and affects our appliances and clothing. We are supposed to drink and bathe in this brown water. We are told to run our water for 10-15 minutes to eliminate the issue and then we have to pay for the wasted water.
An individual environmental assessment would address the high levels of chlorine used to deal with the extremely high level of organic matter in our well water. It is this combination of chlorine and organic matter that creates the trihalomethanes. Chlorine 10x the level of surrounding areas is detrimental to the health of the residents of Tottenaham.
By having an individual environmental assessment, the past dealings with the Ministry of the Environment and Tottenham regarding our water can be investigated. Since 2000 there have been three New Tecumseth Water Supply, Distribution and Storage Master Plans. One in 2007, another in 2011 and finally the current one in 2016, and none have addressed or corrected the issues with the water in Tottenham. We were promised water from Collingwood through a pipeline since 2000. They stopped the pipeline in Beeton and never made good on their promise. I am aware of technology that exists that can remove the organic matter prior to disinfection, which would then reduce the amount of chlorine needed.
An environmental assessment can look into and address the cause of the high levels of ammonia, methane, iron and organic matter in our well water. It would make sense to keep the water source clean and do whatever is necessary to keep the aquifer clean. Farm and golf course run off should be investigated. Your agency can explain provincial and federal responsibility as it pertains to our water.
This assessment would also investigate what the town has done to prevent chlorine and trihalomethanes from leaching the lead from lead pipes in and leading up to century homes. And if the town has tested water for lead directly from the taps of our century homes. This is a concern because chlorine and trihalomethanes lead to the health concerns in Flint Michigan.
As I explained in my previous letter, this Master Plan does not deal with our water issue. The recommended solution is to take Alliston’s Collingwood water and mix it with Alliston well water. Alliston and Beeton are facing a supply deficit because Collingwood cannot supply enough water to them, that is why they are digging a new well. The proposed pipeline from Beeton to Tottenham that will cost $6 Million is apparently a priority. The plan is to take the mixed Alliston water, send it down the pipeline to be mixed with a MINIMUM of 50% Tottenham water. But because Alliston does not have enough supply, there is not enough water to mix with our water. Even if there was enough supply, this is not an acceptable solution. We pay the same money as Alliston and Beeton and we deserve the same quality. This Master Plan would not provide the same quality, even if there was enough supply.
Tottenham pays the same price for water as the two other villages in our town, Alliston and Beeton. And yet they are not exposed to high levels of trihalomethanes, iron and chlorine. If we bottled our water for sale, no one in their right mind would purchase it because of it’s substandard quality. The residents of Tottenham and their health has been neglected for far too many years and it needs to be corrected immediately, not in 5-10 years.
I have attended Council meetings and spoken directly to the Council of the Town of New Tecumseth several times. The response from members has been minimal if any. I have written emails to individual members and the Council as a whole. I hosted an information and awareness booth at Tottenham’s Community Week to which not one member dropped by. My own Councillor is my neighbour across the street. He now ignores me at all costs and has not spoken to me since the Community Week event. Members of Public Works have been approached by me in person and by email in order to gain water reports and information. I reached out to the Simcoe Muskoka Health Department and never received a response. Due to lack of response to my concerns by The Town of New Tecumseth, I have made contact with CTV, My FM Radio, Alliston, The Herald Newspaper and been a part of an article in the Barrie Examiner. Most of our town is still not fully aware of or understanding of the issues with our water. I created a website, www.tottenham-water.ca, and with the partnership of Cheryl Anne Schmidt a Facebook page of the same name has been created. We have continued to make contacts with the University of Alberta, Simcoe Muskoka Greenbelt Coalition, Water is Life: Coalition for Water Justice as well as many other organizations. I will continue to reach out to news agencies, newspapers, radio stations and organizations until I feel that the Tottenham Water Issue has been satisfactorily rectified.
I can forward you a list of all of my correspondence with Town Council members and members of the town if you wish. It would be easier to do that, than to list them all and describe them. But I will list and describe them if this is necessary.
I have lived in Tottenham for 16 years. I was not aware of any issue with Trihalomethanes in all my time here. I was acutely aware of the colour problem though. But I assumed that I would be notified if there was anything hazardous in our water. I was wrong. It was not until January 2016, that a neighbour told me about a gentleman that had created a Facebook page discussing the Trihalomethane problem. I attended an information session in February 2016 put on by the town regarding the Master Plan. My questions were never adequately answered by anyone. I began to research our water problem and was fortunate enough to find another like minded resident that I have partnered with to try to spread awareness and information to all the residents of our town. It is neglectful and irresponsible that the residents of Tottenham were never adequately notified of any problem with our water. The town claims putting a water report in the paper on a yearly basis is adequate. It is not. People need to be knowledgeable about water treatment to understand the reports. Most of the town was not trained in this. Even those responsible for governing our water do not address the elevated levels. On October 15, 2013, our water tested 156 parts per billion. On October 28, 2013 it was resampled and tested at 147 parts per billion. Under Corrective Action was written : “No Further Action Required”. This is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated. Even our National Standards for Trihalomethanes are a disgrace. Research used to come up with the standard of 100 parts per billion are from 1993 and the early 2000’s. Information has come a long way since then. The World Health Organization and The U.S. made standards of 80 parts per billion and certain States in the U.S. have tried to lower it to 60 parts per billion. Our maximum acceptable level is unacceptable. The people of Tottenham, Ontario and Canada deserve better. We need higher standards for water. The people of Tottenham are expected to purchase their own multi thousand dollar water filtration systems to deal with the problem. Our own mayor has stated this to me. Most residents with low incomes, the elderly, renters and those dealing with illness cannot afford one. But why should we have to purchase them ourselves. Alliston and Beeton and our surrounding areas do not have to. Water is a Basic Human Right and this basic human right has been denied to the residents of Tottenham by the Town of New Tecumseth. for decades.
Thank you for attention concerning this matter.
Waiting excitedly for Tottenham’s individual environmental assessment,