Ministry of Environment responds to my email

By  | April 14, 2010 | 0 Comments | Filed under: Cambridge's Dirty Drinking Water
—– Original Message —–
From: Shewen, Phil (ENE)
To: Debbie Vitez
Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 3:43 PM
Subject: RE: Canadian General Tower Cambridge

Hi Debbie,


In response to your request I asked our drinking water section for assistance in answering your concerns and they provided the following information:


•           Ontario has developed a safety net which gives Ontarians the confidence that their municipal drinking water systems are providing safe, high quality drinking water.  In an effort to help educate all segments of society in the effectiveness of Ontario’s safety net the ministry has developed an internet based Drinking Water Portal which can be found at:


•           Ontario has regulated health-based standards for 158 parameters, and drinking water systems perform thousands of tests a year to make sure they are being met.  To date the ministry has not been made aware of a Drinking Water exceedance of these health based standards for any industrial organics in the Cambridge Well Supply.


•           The Regional Municipality of Waterloo owns and operates all of the treatment facilities within the Cambridge Well Supply while the City of Cambridge owns and operates the water distribution network.


•           The Middleton Well Supply is one of several water treatment locations in the City of Cambridge and consists of six groundwater wells which supply approximately 40% of Cambridge’s total water demand.


•           The Drinking Water Systems Regulation (O. Reg. 170/03) requires all municipalities to make all annual reports and all testing results available for inspection by any member of the public during normal business hours at the office of the municipality.  Furthermore, larger Municipalities such as the Regional Municipality of Waterloo and the City of Cambridge are required to post a copy of every annual report on the Internet.


•           The Regional Municipality of Waterloo (RMOW) and the City of Cambridge have complied with these reporting requirements since the legislation came into force.  The following is the link to the RMOW web site:

The following is a link to the City of Cambridge site:



•           In 2005 the RMOW commenced a Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (a public process), to expand the Middleton Waterworks to address microbiological water concerns and the presence of low level industrial organics (trichloroethylene (TCE) and 1,4 Dioxane) and iron and manganese in the raw water supply.  Additional information on this Environmental Assessment can be found at the following RMOW web site:!OpenDocument



•           The Environmental Assessment found TCE average concentrations to be 3.6 ug/L (Provincial standard for drinking water is 5.0 ug/L) and the 1,4 Dioxane average concentration to be 3.0 ug/L (Health Canada Guidance Value is 30.0 ug/L). Please note that the Province of Ontario does not have a standard for 1,4 Dioxane.


•           Due to the presence of the industrial organics, the RMOW is installing additional treatment at the Middleton facility with a projected completion date of 2011. The RMOW has voluntarily installed interim treatment as a precautionary measure to address the low levels of industrial organics until all of the upgrades are complete. The interim treatment has been able to maintain the TCE concentrations below 3.0 ug/L.  


•           The Minister of the Environment annually reports on the state of Drinking Water in Ontario.  A copy of this report can be found at:  Additionally, the Chief Drinking Water Inspector also publishes a report on the status of Drinking Water in Ontario and a copy can be found at:


•           The Chief Drinking Water Inspector’s report describes at length the inspections and compliance activities at water systems in the Province of Ontario including the Cambridge Well Supply and the Cambridge Distribution System.


•           Questions related to Health Based concerns related to Drinking Water are best answered by the Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Waterloo Public Health Unit.  The following is a link to their web site:


With regards to your comment “The lawsuit the Ministry of Environment brought against the city of Cambridge pertaining to the contamination at the Middleton Street site”  please note that I am not aware any such lawsuit.


Finally, regarding your comment “Which is located across the Street from a known Vinyl Factory… I am assuming that you test that site often during the year.”  please be advised that the ministry does not routinely sample industrial properties.  As is the case in the Bishop Street community anyone responsible for the discharge of a contaminant has a responsibility to assess the impacts from the discharge and cleanup the contaminant as applicable.  As I am not familiar with Canadian General Tower I cannot provide any specific information but I can tell there has been an environmental assessment completed at the site.



Phil Shewen
Environmental Officer
West Central Region
Ministry of the Environment
Guelph District Office
519-826-4286 fax



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