I was tapped as a political director of the Ontario Municipal Water Association (OMWA) in 2016. The OMWA's mandate encompasses drinking water, wastewater and stormwater and our focus is on the policy and governance of those systems. Our relationship with the Provincial government and the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MOECP) has been a win-win for the municipalities we represent. Often, the OMWA is turned to first to provide expert advice when the government is contemplating changes to provincial policy. Our membership is able to provide comment, directly through OMWA, on various concerns and considerations that would affect their water systems.
The board is unique in that the directors are made up of politicians and senior management at municipalities. As a politician, I'm often asked to give my perspective from a local governance lens. I've been tasked as the communications chair to help get the word out to members.
My time on the board has given me yet another educational experience. The biggest takeaway from my experience with the OMWA is knowing our water is in good hands. The people managing our water supplies, across the province, are passionate about delivering quality water. The average resident would be surprised at the engagement, concerns, and viewpoints around water delivery — I know I am. Most of us don't think much past the expectation that clean, safe water pours out our taps every day.
The OMWA have started working with First Nations this past year to help with guidance and expert advice on some of the challenges they face with water quality issues. It's incredible that in Canada in 2018 there are still communities dealing with boil water advisories on a daily basis. I hope to continue my work with the OMWA beyond 2018.