I am writing on behalf of the staff from the Municipality of Central Elgin that
are responsible for the provision of municipal drinking water to Central Elgin residents.
This letter is in response to Mr. Jim Ziegler's letter to Port Stanley News on March
14th entitled "Boil Water Advisory".
On March 12th st approximately 9:30 a.m. the main feed for water to Port Stanley was
disrupted as a result of a broken watermain on East Road between the water tower
and Hill St. Municipal staff promptly shut down this main and redirected flow to
the secondary supply for Port Stanley. This directed water from the water tower
north on East Road to Sunset Drive and southerly into Port Stanley. As a result
of this redirection of flow, some iron deposits that exist in all water mains were
stirred up and caused turbidity issues (cloudy or reddish tinged water) in some
parts of Port Stanley. These turbidity issues are not a risk to public health.
Through consultation with Elgin St. Thomas Public Health, it was determined that
it would be prudent to issue a "Precautionary Boil Water Advisory" to the homes
that receive their water directly from the watermain on East Road that had failed
and had to be removed and replaced. There were 23 homes affected by the Precautionary
Boil Water Advisory. These homes are located on East Road between Dexter Line and
Hill St., Hill St. east of East Road and Gentry Lane. This notice was hand delivered
by municipal staff to all affected homes at approximately 4 p.m. During the time period
between 9:30 a.m. when the main broke, and 4 p.m. when the notice was delivered, the
23 affected residents were without water and were never at risk of a health issue.
We would also note that in addition to the notices being hand delivered to the affected
landowners, notices were posted on social media such as Facebook, twitter and the
municipal website throughout the day in an effort to keep people informed.
It is important to note that since the "Walkerton" incident, legislation respecting
municipal drinking water in Ontario is one of the most heavily regulated and strict
in the world. As a result, anyone that is responsible for the provision of drinking
water in Ontario has "personal liability" to ensure that they carry out their duties
appropriately and do not knowingly compromise public health and safety. These individuals
include elected officials, managers and even the operators performing the day to
day operations and repairs to the system. What does that mean? It means if any person
is found negligent in performing their duties when it comes to providing municipal
drinking water, they can be held personally responsible and loose everything they
have worked their entire life for. Their homes, their savings. Everything. Those
of us in this field are not covered by municipal insurance or cannot purchase insurance
to cover us personally when performing our jobs respecting drinking water. So yes,
we do take the responsibility that the public has entrusted in us to provide clean
safe drinking water very seriously! We do not take chances or are we flippant about
our responsibilities and decisions.
At no time was the public's health and safety compromised in the recent events of
March 12th, nor in past events or in events that inevitably will occur in the future.
The men and women that are responsible for providing Central Elgin residents with
clean, reliable and healthy drinking water take pride in ensuring that the water
system is reliable and our customers are safe.
Lloyd J. Perrin
Director of Physical Services
Municipality of Central Elgin