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Erring on safe side of water issues

Doing business in Guelph is about to become more complicated, especially if it’s a business that could affect our groundwater. However, while few people like the idea of more red tape, sometimes it’s needed for the common good, and this is one of those times.
Ontarians were deeply shocked in May 2000 by the tainted-water tragedy in Walkerton, which was traced to farm runoff contaminating a vulnerable well. A public inquiry led by an appeal court judge probed the tragedy. Its recommendations on source water protection were part of a comprehensive multi-barrier approach to safeguard Ontarians from dangerous drinking water. The Liberal government ordered regional studies to come up with source water protection plans. Guelph city hall was part of a five-year effort in the Grand River watershed, which was coordinated by the Grand River Conservation Authority.
An arduous process led to the plan that went to city council last night, prior to going to the province for its approval. The plan means applications to city hall for non-residential development will now be subject to a new level of approval – pre-screening by an official who’s to be hired to weigh risks to our water supply sources. Existing businesses will also be affected by regulations in the new plan.
It hasn’t taken 13 years for the effects of Walkerton to be felt in Guelph. Post-Walkerton provincial regulations have led to more chlorine in our water for the past several years, for example. Yes, the coming red tape associated with the new source water protection plan might cause some headaches. But it beats the prospect of unsafe water.

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