Clean Water Act introduces new protection for municipal drinking water sources

Drinking Water Protection Area Sign

The Province of Ontario has implemented several pieces of legislation to make delivery of safe drinking water a priority.

The Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002 set out high standards for the operation, treatment and testing of municipal drinking water systems. The Region of Durham consistently meets or exceeds these requirements as it strives to provide residents with high quality drinking water.

The Clean Water Act, 2006 (CWA) protects municipal drinking water at the source. The Province created the CWA to set out a framework to protect drinking water at the source. It is a highly prescribed and regulated process, with specific deliverables and extensive public consultation at each stage of delivery.

Source Protection Committees (SPC) lead the process in each source protection region. Each committee is a group of representatives from municipalities, the public, agricultural, golf courses, aggregate and other industries. With support from local conservation authorities, the SPCs are responsible for an assessment report and a source protection plan.

The assessment reports summarize a series of studies that identify vulnerable areas and significant drinking water threats to every municipal drinking water system.

In Durham Region, there are three assessment reports because Durham’s geographic area encompasses three source protection regions:

For more information about source water protection in Durham Region, please contact the Works Department, Technical Support Division at 1-905-668-7711.

The committees submitted draft Source Protection Plans (SPP) to the Province last year. The SPPs contain policies and actions to ensure that drinking water threats will not become significant risks to drinking water. The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) is currently reviewing these plans and it is anticipated that they could be approved in 2014.

Bowmanville Creek

The Region, as a key implementing body, will have several responsibilities upon approval of the SPPs. Over the past decade, the Region has proactively integrated source protection policies and practices into the Regional Official Plan and departmental operations. Regional staff participated in the source protection policy development process and have begun property visits to verify significant drinking water threats.

Drinking Water Threats

  1. The establishment, operation or maintenance of a waste disposal site within the meaning of Part V of the Environmental Protection Act.
  2. The establishment, operation or maintenance of a system that collects, stores, transmits, treats or disposes of sewage.
  3. The application of agricultural source material to land.
  4. The storage of agricultural source material.
  5. The management of agricultural source material.
  6. The application of non-agricultural source material to land.
  7. The handling and storage of non-agricultural source material.
  8. The application of commercial fertilizer to land.
  9. The handling and storage of commercial fertilizer.
  10. The application of pesticide to land.
  11. The handling and storage of pesticide.
  12. The application of road salt.
  13. The handling and storage of road salt.
  14. The storage of snow.
  15. The handling and storage of fuel.
  16. The handling and storage of a dense non-aqueous phase liquid.
  17. The handling and storage of an organic solvent.
  18. The management of runoff that contains chemicals used in the de-icing of aircraft.
  19. An activity that takes water from an aquifer or a surface water body without returning the water taken to the same aquifer or surface water body.
  20. An activity that reduces the recharge of an aquifer.
  21. The use of land as livestock grazing or pasturing land, an outdoor confinement area or a farm-animal yard. O. Reg. 385/08, s. 3.