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GLIN==> Ont Gov't unable to say water is safe!



Greetings, Here is a link to our paper! Cheers, Christine

http://www.cielap.org/whatsnew/newindex2.html


Source: http://www.canoe.ca/EcoliTragedy/011217_water-cp.html

Gov't unable to tell whether Ontario's water is dangerous

By COLIN PERKEL -- Canadian Press

TORONTO (CP) -- Ontario's Environment Ministry can't tell whether the
province's ground and surface waters are dangerous given a lack of
comprehensive monitoring, a two-year study released Monday concludes.
"We don't know whether public health and environment health is at risk,"
said
Lewis Molot, an environmental studies professor at York University.
"Without a monitoring program, we don't know."
Without proper monitoring and analysis of water quality, it's also
impossible
to determine if the government's policies are working, the research finds.
The government has also failed to issue a comprehensive report on the
quality
of the water in Ontario's rivers and lakes in 10 years.
"We don't know whether they're analysing the data they do have, we don't
know
what they know, and without reporting to the public, the public can't
determine whether the environmental policies that are in place are
effective," said Molot.
The report for the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy,
which
doesn't deal directly with the quality of drinking water, finds the
situation
is even worse when it comes to groundwater.
Close to three million people in the province depend on well water for
drinking and it is also widely used for irrigation and by commercial
bottling
operations.
"The quality of groundwaters in Ontario is unknown due to lack of
monitoring," said researcher Daniella Molnar.
While the government has announced a new groundwater monitoring network will
be up and running by 2003, it will be heavily dependent on the province's 38
conservation authorities.
"Conservation authorities will receive no new additional funding from the
province in spite of severely reduced grants from the province in recent
years," said Molnar.
Environment Ministry spokesman John Steele said the government began a new
monitoring program a year ago.
"It'll take time to develop the program again," said Steele.
"It'll take a couple of years before you start getting significant amounts
of
data in."
Molot noted that the province currently has about 240 active monitoring
sites
for surface water -- most in southern Ontario -- down from 730 such sites in
1995.
In the same period, the amount of reported pollutants released has more than
doubled.
He also said that only one Grand River site -- at its mouth -- tests for
toxic pesticides despite the importance of the watershed.
"These contaminants are toxic. They are essentially poisonous, which is why
pesticides are used in the first place," he said.
Molnar pointed out that much of the information for the study could only be
obtained through Freedom of Information requests.
Liberal environmental critic Jim Bradley said the government "wants to keep
as much information secret as possible" and called it "an appalling
situation" that so little has been done since the Walkerton water tragedy in
May 2000.
The situation will only likely get worse given the possibility of a huge
budget shortfall next year, Bradley said.


**************************
Christine Elwell
Senior Policy and Legal Analyst
Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy
517 College Street, Suite 400
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M6G 4A2
Tel: 416 923 3529 x 25
Fax: 416 926 5949
e-mail: christine@cielap.org
web:http://www.cielap.org



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