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Petition draws attention to water quality in Tottenham

Posted September 4, 2014

An online petition posted last week intends to amplify growing frustrations with the municipal water supply in Tottenham, calling for accelerated timelines for connecting to the pipeline from Alliston, or in lieu of that, lower rates to compensate for the increased costs attributed to remedies like open taps to clear discolouration, and filters.

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Pictured above samples of Tottenham water issues including a filter on the right. Click here to view the petition

Tottenham resident Laura Plante told Free Press Online she launched the action "in response to the increasing number and intensity of conversations among residents that are disgusted and frustrated."

"Residents are getting increasingly angry and impatient because we notice that the problems are getting worse instead of better, and hopefully put an extra bit of fire under their butts to get moving," said Ms Plante, whose petition targets the Town: "We are being billed an average to above-average rate on our water bill for water that we consider to be of far below average quality. We pay the same rate as the residents of Beeton and Alliston even though they are supplied with better quality water from a different source. In addition, we feel forced to pay for systems in our homes that somewhat improve the quality of our water, such as filter systems and water softeners. On top of this, we are told if our water is discoloured to run all taps for 30 minutes - significantly adding to the cost of our water bills."

Tottenham is supplied by a groundwater system distributed through Wells 4, 5, 6A, and 7) with a current maximum capacity of  6,000 m3/d. The Tottenham Secondary Plan, which will double the population by 2031 requires an additional daily capacity of 5,500 m3/d for a total of 11 ,413 m3/d. The preferred solution to meeting that demand is connecting the community to the pipeline that delivers Georgian Bay water treated in Collingwood to Alliston and Beeton.

A council motion approved in January 2012 pegged the pipeline expansion to Tottenham to have started in 2013, but timed to residential development starts, which are now fully underway. Development charges are expected to collect about $14 million to help finance the project - whose alternatives range in cost from $8 million to $25 million.

In the meantime, turning groundwater potable in Tottenham requires a chemical cocktail, which meets Ministry of Environment (MOE) standards but comes with its own side affects. A Water Supply Disinfection and Treatability Study presented to councillors in 2012 concluded the elevated levels of Trihalomethanes are the by-product of chlorine mixed with amonia and methane found in the raw supply that feeds the municipal well system in Tottenham. And that's compounded because the system requires 10 times the average amount of disinfection in the treatment process.

"Though the plans for a new pipeline sound like they've been in the works for quite a few years, we have yet to hear of anything 100 per cent set in stone," said Ms. Plante. "Now they're going ahead with three new subdivisions and supposedly hoping developers will help cover the cost, even though it was said that the developers charges arent sufficient for this. Have they even made any progress in figuring out whether the water sources can be mixed? I can't believe the MOE gives them this many years to resolve the situation."

Click here to send a Letter to the Editor.

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