Drinking Water Update: Expect an On-Site Visit

The process of moving the drinking water regulations from the Ministry of Environment to local health units continues to move forward. Paul McCue of the Ministry of Health spoke at this year’s NOTO convention and brought the industry up-to-date on where we will be over the coming year, and what lies ahead.

For the upcoming season, we can expect a continuation of last year’s regulations. Although the move of drinking water regulation over to local health units is continuing, we should not expect to see any change for this season. If you are posting, you can continue to do so. Those who are testing with private labs will also continue exactly the same as last year.

As the 2008 season begins, we can expect to see our local health inspectors begin to take over their new role in overseeing your drinking water system. The actual process of how this will be phased in is not entirely clear yet, but a few significant details are known.

You will receive an on-site visit to evaluate your drinking water system probably some time during 2008 or 2009. With the number of inspections involved, this process could take some time. The inspector will conduct a risk assessment, using a computer based assessment tool developed by the Ministry of Health. The use of this instrument will help insure that the assessments are conducted in a consistent way.

Part of the assessment will involve the inspector looking at your water source and treatment system, as well as any records of previous test results and any manuals and maintenance or training procedures you may have. All of the information will be used together to assign your system a risk category of low, medium or high.

It is likely that operations with an acceptable treatment system will receive an initial risk assessment of medium. If you also have a track record of good test results and some sort of documented training, maintenance and record keeping procedures, you could start off with low risk assessment.

The risk assessment will determine your testing intervals. Although the details are not yet final, it seems likely that medium risk systems will be required to test monthly, with low risk systems testing perhaps as infrequently as twice per season.

Who will do the testing is also not yet clear. Although we originally expected the current system of using private testing labs to continue, there seems to be increasing pressure to have this task moved back to local health units. We can only wait and see on this one.

What does this all mean for the coming season? If you have a treatment system in place and are not yet testing, you may want to start. The track record you establish may help move your system to a lower risk category. It is also a good idea to pay some attention to maintenance plans, training and record keeping. This does not necessarily have to be complicated. Do you keep records of when you change filters or UV lights? Are all of the manuals close at hand? Do the employees who operate the system know what to do if something goes wrong? These sorts of simple, common sense items will help determine the risk level that is assigned to your system. It is to your advantage to start working on these items now.

Although we will not see any major changes to the drinking water regulations over the coming season, things are continuing to move forward. Although it is “business as usual” for the upcoming season, there are some things you can begin to do now to make the upcoming changes even easier. 

This article was taken from page 15 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, Winter 2006 Issue


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