PARRY SOUND – Parry Sound has remarkably clean water.
Parry Sound's drinking water system received praise from elected officials.
Last week town staff presented council with its annual summary report for the Tony Agnello Water Treatment Plant – citing few problems and safe drinking water.
Within the report, only three minor incidents were listed, one of which concerned Coun. Bonnie Keith, who asked for additional explanation.
“We have an annual inspection from the Ministry of the Environment (MOE). They’ll go up and do random samples in the area, not necessarily in the locations that we go,” said town director of public works Peter Brown in response. “They have the authority to enter into anybody’s residence and take a water sample. This particular inspector went into a residence that we don’t normally go to and took a water sample. The sample came back with a positive of something that we don’t ever sample (fecal streptococci). The Ministry of the Environment re-sampled it and it came back negative. My guess it was a mistake done on the lab’s part, because it is such a delicate, sensitive sample. After it was re-sampled it was confirmed there was no problems.”
Mayor Jamie McGarvey added that because the sample was taken inside a residence, any remodeling done inside the home involving the plumbing could affect the water inside.
“The other thing that can happen too, in this particular case, since (the testing) was done in a residence, is that someone could have done some work within that house and something could have gotten into the waterline, it may have nothing to do with our water system whatsoever,” McGarvey said.
Brown reiterated there is no cause for concern about the town’s water.
“It was an unreasonable sample,” Brown said of the Ministry of the Environment’s water sample. “There was no identification that was found on the second sample, so the MOE just walks away. They’re done with it, that it was a mistake, or the sample was incorrect – as his Worship identified, the sample was done in the residence of a house. They’re basically testing not only our water, they’re also testing their plumbing - we have to be clear on this. The bottom line is there’s no issue on that particular sample. We don’t have an issue here.”
Coun. Brad Horne thanked Brown and manager of water systems Terry Brown for the report, and asked whether dropping Georgian Bay waters pose any concern, where the town’s water intake pipe sits about 50 feet below the surface.
“Cheers gentlemen. I have to commend the quality of the water,” said Horne. “In terms of the water in Georgian Bay, with regards to the low water level, I know that our intake pipe is sunk way out in the Georgian Bay. Is there some concern about the low water level?”
“When they originally built the water plant they looked back around 100 years of water levels and made sure that they put the intake deep enough that we would never run into that problem,” said Terry Brown.
Other concerns raised by council included water consumption in the summer months. On average, Parry Sounders are using approximately 55 per cent of the plant’s capacity to filter and clean the water.
“I note that in July we’re inching up to over 90 per cent of our capacity,” said Coun. Paul Borneman. “As the community continues to grow, I’m hopeful we’re not going to have to build another one of those things anytime real soon. Does that mean we’re looking at some sort of further water restrictions – front lawns, and car washing and such?
Peter Brown said there are a number of options council can consider in the near future to reduce the amount of water consumption during the summer months, but noted that last summer was particularly hot and dry.
“The three of us, Terry, Mike Jarzembecki (manager of wastewater systems) and I are working on a report that I hope to bring to council in the near future in regards to our water versus wastewater flows versus the rain fall, and it’s very telling. The amount of infiltration and inflow that the Town of Parry Sound experiences on a regular basis, but more specifically, when there’s significant rainfall, it’s incredible to see the spikes, followed by major increase flows (to the wastewater treatment plant),” said Brown.