Mono’s second Town Hall meeting well attended, considered a “huge success”

March 30, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Peter Richardson

Last Saturday’s second Mono Town Hall Meeting was a definite success. Held at the Mono Community Centre on Mono Centre Road, the event was well attended and featured two well-presented topics of public interest, Drinking Water Quality and Radon Gas.

Michael Dunmore, the Town’s Superintendent of Roads and the Director of Public Works was first up, with an outline of just how Mono supplies urban residents with consistently clean and plentiful fresh water. Before beginning, Mike announced that the Town landfill will be re-opened for the disposal of yard waste and brush exclusively, later in the spring and possibly again in the coming fall.

Mono’s municipal water system is administered by Orangeville and although primarily the talk pertained mainly to municipal water supplies, much of the presentation applied equally to residential supply (well water) also.

Of Mono’s total population of some 8,600 residents, with 3,100 dwellings, approximately 2,100 residents are on municipal water, with the remaining 6,500 having well water. Mono has two well sites, on different aquifers. Three wells are located in the Cardinal Woods area and another three plus a water tower serve Purple Hill and the Island Lake area. The town now has a total of 27 kilometres of watermains and 225 hydrants.

Mr. Dunmore said the Ministry of the Environment and Climate change is responsible for annually inspecting the water supplies and assuring that they meet all standards and regulations. A copy of the Drinking Water Quality Management System, which outlines all of the requirements is available, to the public at the Town offices.

Mr. Dunmore explained that the raw water from the wells is first tested and then treated before being tested again before it is distributed to the town. For those with wells, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health offices will test your water at no cost, and bottles for this purpose may be acquired at the Town offices as well as from the WDGPH offices.

The Town tests its water constantly, including for heavy metals and over 100 chemical compounds. It is recommended that private citizens test their well water several times a year and if they wish, the Ontario Government will do a complete test for all chemicals, heavy metals and pollutants for a fee of approximately $300.

Two compounds that the Town tracks constantly, are sodium and naturally occurring arsenic.  At present, although it is within tolerance limits, the Cardinal Woods wells are testing higher than normal for sodium. Mr. Dunmore pointed out that this is both from natural sources and, not surprisingly, road salt. He pointed out that the Works Department strives to use the least possible amount of road salt during the winter months, to help reduce the amount of runoff into the ground water.

A point of interest was the clearing of the water lines, done by opening the hydrants and allowing them to run for a prescribed amount of time, thus letting all of the standing water in those mains to be replaced with a fresh supply. This helps to prevent build-ups of minerals and such while keeping the water supply to residents fresh.

The meeting heard that Mono’s wells are protected from vandalism or contamination by an alarm system, locked fences and a sealed and secured cap over every wellhead. In private wells, it was pointed out that if the well is drilled, there will be a rubber seal at the wellhead which should be checked for deterioration frequently and on any well, the ground surrounding the well should always be sloped away from the well, to prevent ground water from seeping into the well. Wells should always fill from the bottom, never from the top. The earth naturally filters surface water before it joins the ground water that fills most residential wells.

Things people should watch for, as far as well water contamination is concerned, include fuel spills, exposure to bovine and other cleft-foot animal manure and proximity to a septic system. An interesting point regarding large animals is that, unlike cattle, horses are not producers of E-coli bacteria, detrimental to humans, in any appreciable or hazardous amount.

During questioning from the audience, Mr. Dunmore explained just who is generally responsible for what when it comes to water quality control. For example, the Town bylaws control most surface contaminants and drought situations, but a problem with wetlands or with someone taking water via a permit, are a provincial responsibility and should be reported to the local conservation authority.

Currently, there are no known chemical problems in Mulmur or Mono. Fluctuating sodium and arsenic levels are a naturally occurring phenomenon and are dependant upon the individual aquifer. They are closely monitored to insure there is no hazard to the public. Although the Town wells draw directly from the aquifers, which are quite deeply below ground, most private wells actually draw from the ground water level, which is shallower. Very few wells are drilled to the depth of an aquifer.

Bo Cheyne, from the WDGPH made the presentation regarding radon gas, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is the number two cause of lung cancer behind smoking in North America, yet the only known health risk.

Before Ms. Cheyne began, John Ito told of his personal experience in dealing with radon. The Mono resident told of how his wife was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer from Radon gas in their home and of his continuing efforts to keep levels at a safe reading. He explained how they discovered the radon problem and everything they have done to combat its existence in their home.

The acceptable levels of radon gas depend upon who you talk to. In Canada, the level is 200 bequerels per cubic metre (200Bq/m3),while the U.S. EPA says 150 Bq/m3 and the World Health Organization recommends only 100Bq/m3. These variations are subjective and based on different statistics and collection methods and population samples. Although Ontario has less radon than many parts of Canada, Mono has high radon levels by comparison.

Ms. Cheyne pointed out that radon, as a heavy gas, is most often found in the basements of homes. It enters the home from cracks in the foundation, or the floor and even from sump pump reservoirs.

During the last century and into this one, builders have designed homes to be energy-efficient by sealing them tightly to keep the air inside from escaping and preventing outside air from entering. Unfortunately, this can lead to higher levels of radon gas, as it cannot escape the home.

Ms. Cheyne said proper ventilation is the best way to reduce the presence of radon. In 2012, Health Canada tested 14,000 households across the country for radon and found that all of Canada has high levels of the gas, perhaps because it is produced by the decomposition of uranium, which is present in much of the Canadian Shield.

The only way to know whether you have radon in your home, is to test for it. You can buy a kit for as little as $30, from the Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program (CNRPP). These kits are extremely simple to use and very definitive as to the presence of radon. You should place them in the lowest, inhabited part of the home, away from any drafts or fans.

The kits are available at hardware and big box stores as well as from certified radon contractors. Wellington/Dufferin/Guelph Public Health also hosts informational, gatherings in November, which is Radon Action Month in Canada. Kits are available there as well. It is very important to test during the heating season, as this is when most homes are the most sealed up and less ventilated. The kits are a one-time-only use, but test for up to a year and compile an aggregate reading.

The best prevention for radon is to seal and ventilate your home’s basement and the very best preventative measure is to install a slap depressurization system. This pumps air under your foundation floor and vents it to the outside, taking the radon with it.

Following the presentations, the floor was opened to the public and many came to the microphone to take advantage of the opportunity to address Mono councillors, all of whom were in attendance.

Ed Kroeker proposed that Council consider instituting a radon awareness programme in Mono and to perhaps try to determine why there was such a high level here. Bo Cheyne told Council that the health unit would certainly work with them to promote awareness.

A Brookfield Subdivision resident asked if recycle bins, with lids, could be supplied to residents, as the current open ones are a constant source of litter on windy days. Mayor Laura Ryan noted that the bins are a County responsibility, but that council would certainly investigate the possibility.

Felicite Morgan asked if Council was going to support Mulmur in preventing motorized vehicles on its trails and was told that was the case especially as the trails were a shared resource and if Mulmur disallowed that use, it basically prevented it everywhere.

Lewis Baker commended Council on the Town Hall meeting and requested that taxpayers be kept up to date on the costs that were being incurred in legal battles with residents and businesses such as Dr. Singer and the Greenwood pit application. He also asked what the Singer matter was really all about. Mayor Ryan responded to the matter of costs by stating that in the case of Greenwood, all costs were being borne by the proponent, being Greenwood, and that after a decision was reached by the NEC in the Singer matter, the Town would be seeking whatever costs could be recovered.

She went on to say that Council got involved because no clear picture of what Dr. Singer actually intended to do was visible and so they were seeking clarification.

Before adjourning, it was announced that the next Town Hall Meeting would be schedules for late October or early November.

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