Approval of the Source Protection Plan
As Chair of our Source Protection Committee, I’m pleased to present you with the completed and approved Mattagami Region Source Protection Plan, the culmination of many years of diligent and thoughtful work, and public consultation. The plan, developed locally, uses a sound foundation of science, completion of 3.9 million dollars worth of pioneering technical study, the legislative authority of the Clean Water Act interpreted through cooperative ministry consultations, and community engagement, sets out specific activities and steps to address current and future contamination threats to the lakes, rivers and underground aquifers that supply water to our municipal water filtration plant. The committee has taken these steps from the lessons of the Walkerton experience, in which we learned that the first step in ensuring safe drinking water is to protect the quality and quantity of local source and supply. The plan was shaped by our committee, composed of nine members (drawing from the City Of Timmins, mining, power-generation, and forestry industries, as well as the Mattagami First Nation and a representative of the village of Gogama). Using their considerable local knowledge, and the results of sound technical and scientific studies, the committee and source protection authority staff came up with plans and policies that, once implemented, will provide the basis of a sound water-shed protection paradigm.
This was not a trivial accomplishment. The Mattagami Source Protection area surrounds the Mattagami River, covering an area in excess of 11,000 square kilometers and is the home to some 48,000 residents. For 90% of that population, the Timmins Water filtration plant is the sole source of drinking water. Protection of the source water involves applying specific actions to manage existing risks or to prevent future risks, by limiting land use, or assigning curtailing actions. These risks are classified as significant, moderate or low in nature. Fortunately, the Mattagami source protection area has only a handful of significant risks located close to the Timmins Water Filtration Plant. The risks include the presence of septic systems, a sewage lift station, road salt and fuel storage, as well as pesticide application in the vicinity of the Water Filtration Plant intake. For activities that would pose a significant risk in the future, (that is, hazardous waste or pesticide storage), the plan calls for the city to manage the risks or eliminate them altogether, – by limiting land use. Moderate or low risks to source water include bio-solids and septage application, as well as effluent from mine sites. The plan establishes actions to address them, should they happen in the future. I encourage all citizens of Timmins to review the approved plan.
As Timmins has the only municipal drinking water system in the area, specific actions must be taken by the City, in order to address existing and or future significant risks. These include:
- Create risk-management plans for storing pesticides, fuel and manure.
- Make sure municipal sewage equipment has proper back-up power systems
- Update its road salt management plan.
- Pre-screen land-use planning and building permit applications to prohibit the future storage of large amounts of organic solvents (like paint thinners or industrial cleaners)
- Conduct education and outreach programming (in partnership with the Mattagami Region Conservation Authority) to advise fuel distributors, private fuel outlets and property owners about what to do in case of a spill. And;
- Educate residents about source protection and water management (including information for private well owners).
On April 2, 2014, Minister of the Environment, Jim Bradley, approved our source protection plan, marking a major milestone to address specific activities that could impact the Timmins drinking water system. The approval allows us to move forward with the implementation of policies on October 1st, 2014. This timing will allow all partners in source protection, including the conservation authority and the municipality, to continue working together, to effectively prepare the plan for implementation. The Minister of the Environment and the Mattagami Region Source Protection Committee will work with the City to review and improve the plan, using experience gained and annual progress reports, toward the next update of the City Official Plan in 2020.
I would also like to take this opportunity to commend the committee, the Staff of the Mattagami Conservation Authority, the City of Timmins and the citizens of Timmins in being diligent throughout the past seven years of creating the plan. Thanks to our strong community framework, with safeguards at every step in the drinking water source, supply and distribution process, the citizens of Timmins can be confident of the quality and quantity of their drinking water, now and in the future.
-George Hughes, Mattagami Region Source Protection Committee Chairman
Download the Approved Source Protection Plan.(pdf)
A companion explanatory document has been prepared to accompany the Source Protection Plan. The Explanatory Document describes the policy development process and the rationale behind each of the policies. It should be read in conjunction with the Source Protection Plan.
Download the Approved Explanatory Document(pdf) for the Approved Source Protection Plan.
UPDATES AND AMENDMENTS IN 2013
On October 4, 2013, the Ministry of the Environment emailed “official comments” on the Proposed Source Protection Plan to the Source Protection Authority and the Source Protection Committee. The “official comments” were recently addressed at a meeting of the Source Protection Committee. The Committee agreed to all of the recommended changes provided by the Ministry of the Environment and was pleased to submit the revised Plan to the Mattagami Region Source Protection Authority for their review and approval. The revised Proposed Source Protection Plan and Explanatory Document were reviewed by the Mattagami Region Source Protection Authority on December 10, 2013. The Authority re-submitted the revised Plan and Explanatory Document to the Ministry of the Environment on December 13, 2013.
Download the Official Director Comments (pdf)
A Source Protection Plan is an agreement among the local community within a Source Protection Area about the ways to protect municipal water quality and water supplies. The plan was developed by the Mattagami Region Source Protection Committee.
The Source Protection Committee engaged the public in a planning process, weighed the scientific data, assessed the threats and identifed the best methods of reducing the risks. The Clean Water Act required communities to have a chance to participate in the process. The province will not accept a plan that has not had full consultation with municipalities, industries, health officials and the public.
Source protection planning builds on the work many municipalities are already doing to protect drinking water. Municipalities are responsible for the safe delivery of municipal drinking water and land use planning within their boundaries. They will have a key role in implementing source protection plans in all areas under municipal jurisdiction.
The province committed to providing the resources to fund source protection planning costs, including groundwater studies, technical assessments and plan development.
It is important that people become involved in local source protection planning and to help find practical, workable solutions. Engaging the local community in source protection planning builds partnerships to protect common interests.
Anyone involved in an activity that poses a threat or may be affected by the source protection plan was encouraged to become involved early on.
The Source Protection Plan for the Mattagami Region Source Protection Area was submitted to the Ministry of the Environment on August 15, 2012.