Canadian Consulting Engineer

Ontario Ministry of Environment outlines plans

Ontario's heavy investment in water treatment plants since the Walkerton tragedy has apparently paid off. At the Ye...

November 27, 2006   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Ontario’s heavy investment in water treatment plants since the Walkerton tragedy has apparently paid off. At the Year in Review Environment Conference held on November 16, Jeff Leal, the Parliamentary Assistant to the Ontario Minister of the Environment, said that over the last two years 99% of the water treatment plants have complied with provincial regulations. He said Ontario has the “highest marks in Canada” for drinking water quality.

Leal gave the opening address at the conference, held at the Sutton Place Hotel in Toronto. The conference sponsors included consulting engineers Golder Associates, who presented many of the sessions, and the legal firm Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg.
First noting that a recent Ipsos Reid poll showed that for the first time in 15 years, the environment is top of the list of the public’s concerns, Leal went on to outline how the Ontario government is responding in different areas.

With regard to power generation, Leal said the government has not been able to phase out coal fired plants as fast as they would like to. However, he said they are making strides in protecting greenbelts and the water supply.

For one thing, Ontario’s Clean Water Act, which was passed in October, will give Ontario the best protected drinking water in Canada, Leal said. He noted that it is an effective approach because the responsibility for source protection will be organized around watersheds rather than on arbitrary municipal boundaries.

He said the government realizes it needs an integrated action plant for curbing carbon dioxide emissions, and that such a plan would have to include not only energy conservation, but also transit and transportation, the curb on urban sprawl, and research into new technologies.

He also noted vehicles are the largest single source of air pollution and that by next January gasoline sold in Ontario will have to have a 5% ethanol content. Leal was excited about the potential of new technologies for producing this alternative, alcohol-based fuel (ethanol is made from crops and other biomass and blended with gasoline to increase octane and improve the emissions quality). He had just visited a plant in Hamilton that takes old beer and converts it into ethanol in three days.

The Year-in-Review Environmental Conference is an annual event organized by Eco-Log Eris, Solid Waste & Recycling magazine, EcoLog Newsletter and other environmental publications of the Business Information Group.


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