Well Aware: Safe drinking water for private wells
In the wake of the Walkerton tragedy in Spring 2001, Green Communities developed Well Aware to address the knowledge gap about well stewardship practices among Ontario households, a third of whom rely on individual private wells for their drinking water.
The Ontario government provided over $3M funding over the next decade for a program that included:
- information materials – the Well Aware booklet (including a First Nations version), factsheets, prompts, website, newsletter
- guided self assessments – voluntary, confidential site visits by trained Water Guide designed to coach well owner in pollution prevention and well maintenance and upgrade issues
- community forums – presentations by expert panelists with opportunities for well owners to get their questions answered
- information provider workshops – workshops with frontline “information providers” to well owners (e.g., realtors, well drillers, municipal staff), to ensure common messaging and accurate information
- outreach – tables, small group presentations, etc.
Well Aware operated as a partnership with Ontario well drillers and technicians, with technical support from professional hydrogeologists. Additional local partners include municipalities, public health, conservation authorities, and others.
As of 2012, Well Aware had racked up some impressive results:
- well owners we have worked with directly: almost 4000
- % who upgrade their wells: 70%
- booklets and kits distributed: over 220,000
- number of community forums: 84, attracting a total audience of 3,000
- number of information provider workshops: 75, for a total of 1900 participants
- website traffic: 30,000 since 2006
In 2009, Well Aware was recognized by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and CH2M Hill, citing our work with seven municipalities.
In 2011, the Ontario Minister of the Environment recognized the contribution of Well Aware to the Province in connection with the Minister’s annual Award for Environmental Excellence.
In the absence of program funding, Well Aware outreach activities are on hold. However, the Well Aware booklet is still available for free download.
Collective impact project tackles complex flooding issue
Green Communities Canada is bringing together stakeholders to create a collective action plan to address urban flood risk in Ontario. We are currently conducting interviews to identify priorities issues and actions. If you’re interested in getting involved, contact Clara Blakelock.
See our website for more information, including a paper outlining the urban flooding issue, impacts, contributing factors, and responses to date. Thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for supporting this initiative.
How municipalities can transform rainwater management.
The Soak it Up! Toolkit outlines 16 actions municipalities can take to reduce runoff and runoff pollution, provides examples of what communities are doing, and offers insights from practitioners about what works and what doesn’t.
The updated and redesigned toolkit includes a new feature: a Stormwater Scorecard to help communities assess progress to date and identify priorities for further action.
GCC developed the scorecard in partnership with the Canadian Freshwater Alliance and the Our Living Waters Network, supported by a grant from Tides Canada and Mountain Equipment Coop.
In 2017, Green Communities Canada joined with Smart Prosperity for a national roadshow of municipal workshops to review the toolkit, with a special focus on stormwater user fees.
Alliance works to boost walking, cycling
Green Communities Canada is part of a national alliance working toward a national action plan that will pick up the pace of progress in making Canada a great place to walk and cycle, for people of all ages.
Since December 2016, we have been working with Canada Bikes and Active School Travel Canada. Our goal: a vision, targets, and a collaborative agenda for action involving all levels of government, NGOs, professional associations, community groups, and others.
See website, which summarizes the scope and need for a strategy, the amazing breadth of support it has (more than 160 signatories), and the benefits of active transportation. There’s also a “take action” page to join the call for a strategy, get connected, and reach out to decision-makers.
Discussions are ongoing with federal government ministries regarding funding for the action planning initiative.
Home need energy audits when they are sold.
Green Communities are support universal home energy ratings when homes are put up for sale. It’s a great way to create value for energy efficiency. And buyers have a right to know.
Starting in 2019, under the Green Energy Act, the Ontario government will require home energy ratings and advice at time of listing. The move is intended to encourage investments in home energy efficiency.
The Home Energy Transparency Coalition (we’re a member) supports the measure and notes that home buyers have a right to reliable information about energy efficiency when they are considering a purchase, as we do for vehicles and appliances.
GCC Executive Director Clifford Maynes recently participated in a series of consultation committee meetings to discuss plans for the Home Energy Rating & Disclosure (HER&D).
The Ontario Real Estate Association raised a long list of concerns: OREA opposes universal ratings at time of listing in favour of including energy audits in a standard home inspection.
As the sole representative of the energy assessment industry, Clifford defended the principle of universality (not all real estate transactions involve home inspections, and the inspectors are opposed to making audits a standard part of their service). Clifford also defended the integrity of the EnerGuide Rating System and quality assurance.
To re-establish the necessary auditor capacity in Ontario required to meet the demand for time of listing audits in 2019, GCC is recommending a substantial increase in retrofit incentives starting in 2017. “We in the industry are quite capable of ramping up capacity, as we have done twice previously. We just need a market for our services to justify the investment,” Clifford said.
RAIN COMMUNITY Solutions is offering a two-day workshop on how to design and build a rain garden, 27-28 October, in Peterborough, ON.
This interactive workshop includes both an instructional component and hands-on activities. Participants will work in small groups to design their own rain gardens and share ideas.
The workshop is led by New York-based landscape architect and ecologist Rusty Schmidt, who has 20 years experience designing and building more than 1,000 rain gardens. Rusty will cover the following topics:
- the problems with urban runoff and green infrastructure solutions
- how rain gardens work
- how to design a build your own rain garden
- soil type and plant selection
- monitoring and maintenance
For more information, and to register, click here.