A former District of Muskoka employee is facing charges under Ontario’s Safe Drinking Water Act.
The charges laid by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) allege that Jason Richardson, former water and sewer operator for the District of Muskoka, provided false or misleading information to a lab on nine different occasions between February 2018 and March 2019.
According to a press release issued by the District on February 24, 2021, concerns brought forward by staff regarding Richardson’s conduct prompted the District to put the employee on a paid leave of absence while an internal investigation was conducted in March 2019, which included an operational review of both the Port Sydney and Huntsville water treatment locations.
“The review confirmed that there was no compromise to water safety. Those findings were shared with MECP and the employee in question ceased employment with the District following that investigation. As well, a follow-up review was conducted across all of the water systems in Muskoka the results of which did not reveal any further issues,” stated the District release.
In further email correspondence, communications officer for the District, Molly Ross, stated that “all systems worked, however we can always learn and improve. Since the incidence [sic] we have provided additional training, invested in technology and introduced additional audit procedures.”
Gary Wheeler, on behalf of the Ministry’s Communications Branch, confirmed that the Ministry did not find that water safety was compromised as a result of the charges laid against Richardson. “The ministry reviewed the findings from the District Municipality of Muskoka’s internal review and water quality data for the drinking water systems involved and concluded that the required level of treatment was maintained, and the safety of the drinking water was not compromised by the operator’s alleged activities.”
He stated that the District of Muskoka identified the issue as a result of internal audit activities and reported it to the ministry and cooperated in its investigation. “There are no remaining compliance issues related to this matter. The ministry continues to conduct annual inspections of the municipal drinking water systems in Muskoka and take appropriate action where required.”
The charges laid against the former District employee are pending in court. Violations under the Safe Drinking Water Act could result in thousands of dollars in fines and a prison term.
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!