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High water marks here

Editorial: One of the most fundamental responsibilities of a municipality is providing safe drinking water to its residents.

It appears Guelph is doing a fine job of it.

For one thing, the city has received an auditor’s report for this year’s on-site verification audit of its drinking water quality management system. The auditor praised the city’s water operation and didn’t identity a need for any corrective actions.

In response, Mayor Karen Farbridge said on her city hall blog that the city’s  Water Services team is “a terrific example of talented public sector employees who keep our community safe.”

City staff’s draft final report on an update to the city’s 25-year water supply master plan is another indication of the good work being done at city hall when it comes to water.

Guelph is very unusual is its reliance on groundwater, and since 1999 the city has embraced water conservation as a high priority. In successfully doing so, the city has won renown as a Canadian leader in water conservation and management of the demand for water.

It might not always seem so when residents perceive their water rates rising at the same time as their water use drops, but there is a financial payoff to water conservation.

The new report says an optimal scenario would reduce water demand by about 9,000 cubic metres a day at a capital cost of $13.8 million. This would be accompanied by savings from deferring $18.3 million worth of capital spending on new water-supply infrastructure.

There is no talk of a future water pipeline to Lake Erie – a subject of controversy as recently as 2007 – in the executive summary of this draft final report.

Instead, there is talk of perhaps needing to build a water treatment plant sometime after 2038 to draw surface water from Guelph Lake to supplement groundwater. There is even discussion of the future prospects for centralized re-use of wastewater.

Talk of wells in parks might attract attention to this report, but there’s a lot more food for thought here.

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