By Mike Anderson

Citing serious threats to the municipal water supply, the Town’s Director of Operations and Infrastructure, Rob Flindall, has shut down three public water taps in Georgina.

Residents will have to use the only remaining public tap at Black River Rd, retrofitted with a card system and security camera.

The closures are intended to prevent commercial users, mainly landscape companies, from accessing the taps and potentially contaminating the Town’s water supply with fertilizer or chemical residue in their containers.

There’s just one problem with that argument – it doesn’t hold water.

The Post asked Flindall if there has been any evidence of contamination from either commercial or residential users of the taps.

“To our knowledge, there have been none,” Flindall admitted in an email to The Post.

Indeed, Flindall was only able to cite two examples of contaminations occurring in Ontario municipalities.

The first occurred in Stratford, Ontario, in 2005, when Festival U-Wash, a commercial car wash, contaminated the Town’s water supply by intentionally bypassing a backflow value, pumping a cleaning solution at 80 PSI into the Town’s water supply, which was 65 PSI.

Stratford was forced to temporarily shut off its water supply and provide potable water to residents. The carwash owner was charged by MOE and received a $75,000 fine.

The second incident occurred in Halton Region, in 2011, when a cleaning solution used to flush the heating system at Iroquois Ridge High School entered the school’s water system. The school was shut down for 24 hours, but the municipal water system was not impacted.

Both these incidents have little relevance to Georgina’s public taps.

While everyone agrees commercial operators should not access the public taps, the likelihood of pumping residue from their containers back into the water supply is extremely low.

They are using a standard garden hose, receiving water one-way from a pressurized system.

Safety concerns could be addressed by installing a simple backflow valve and removing the threaded taps, so a garden hose can’t be connected.

Instead, Flindall has insisted on closing down three public taps, forcing residents to drive considerable distances to access potable water.

This has been done without a council vote or public consultation after Flindall threatened the Mayor and council with the spectre of being jailed under Ontario’s Safe Water Drinking Act, if they didn’t agree to close the taps immediately.

In short, Flindall has been playing Chicken Little.

However, the sky is not falling. And this is not how a municipality should function.

If the Town wants to close the public water taps and deny residents access to safe drinking water, let council vote on it.



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