By Chad Ingram
Anyone who’s seen the new water refill station in Head Lake Park recently may have also noticed that it remains unusable.
And while councillors for Dysart et al seem to feel the municipality is waiting on the health unit for water testing to be completed an inspector with the health unit says it’s incumbent upon the municipality to take water samples and have them tested by a lab.
“So we’ve got a water refill station it’s got a lovely plastic bag over it with a sign that says ‘testing in progress’ and I understand the health unit needs to do something” Councillor John Smith said during a July 23 council meeting. “So do we have a timeline or a commitment? We’ve got events. There’s one tonight. We’ve got a lot of people in the park.”
The installation of the refill station is part of Dysart council’s move to eliminate single-use plastics in the municipality both by staff members and in terms of sales of plastic bottles of water at events in the park.
Mayor Andrea Roberts called the process “painfully slow.”
“There have been numerous emails sent” Roberts said adding those correspondences began in March or April. “A little frustrating that we have it all ready to go and so there is more conversation with the health unit Monday trying to expedite this process.”
“I won’t say what I think about the health unit” said Smith “but I understand why the premier maybe thinks they should have less funding because the people who are working there should be looking for a different type of activity. It’s ridiculous.”
However a rep from the health unit told the Echo it’s incumbent upon the municipality to take water samples from the station submit them to a laboratory for testing and then submit those results to the health unit.
Neha Gandhi is a public health inspector with the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit and is the inspector who has been liaising with municipal staff on the testing of the water at the refill station.
Gandhi said that providing water for public consumption means a number of regulations must be adhered to.
“The owner/operator has to be in compliance” she said.
Gandhi said that in such situations it is also the responsibility of the owner/operator to take water samples and submit them to a laboratory then share those results with the health unit for approval.
She said there have been some communication delays between the health unit and the municipality regarding emails and involving people being on vacation.
“Unfortunately due to a bit of a delay in communication they were put on hold” she said.
The Echo asked when the refill station might be available for public use.
“That’s dependent on the lab they’re using” Gandhi said.
As part of health unit consolidations the Ford government in enacting throughout the province the HKPR District Health Unit is being merged with those in Peterborough Hastings County Prince Edward County and Durham Region. Exact details around that merger remain unclear.