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Our water is worth it!

A boy with curly hair holding a glass of water

Durham Region, and all of Ontario, is home to some of the best tap water in the world. The Region of Durham, Works Department treats and distributes safe drinking water across the Region in the most cost-effective way to its customers. Municipal water and sanitary sewer services are 100 per cent rate-supported–they are not funded by property taxes.

About 95 per cent of Durham's municipal tap water comes from Lake Ontario. The rest comes from underground sources and Lake Simcoe. The water is processed through a sophisticated system and is tested daily to ensure it is safe to drink. Durham's municipal water plants are continuously monitored by Regional staff and inspected by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

A secure, clean supply of water is one of the many benefits of living in Ontario, and did you know that drinking tap water also saves you money? A typical 355-millilitre bottle of water costs, on average, $2 from a vending machine. Municipal water from a tap in Durham Region is delivered at only a fraction of that price: about one cent a glass.

Choosing tap water over bottled water is also good for the environment. By choosing a reusable glass or plastic container filled with tap water instead of commercial bottled water, you're helping the environment by saving natural resources.

Top three reasons to choose tap water:

  1. Tap water in the Region of Durham is clean and safe!
  2. Reduce waste by filling a reusable container instead of bottled water.
  3. Save money by choosing municipal tap water over commercial bottled water.

Why are municipal water and sewer user rates being increased?

Ensuring a clean, safe supply of water is complicated and costly. Water conservation is important to protect this important and limited resource, and can help to extend the life of Durham's municipal water infrastructure. However, there are fixed and planned expenses associated with treating and distributing water and sewage across Durham, which remain the same, regardless of the amount of water used. These costs support the entire system needed to supply water or treat sewage now and in the future:

Durham on Tap


Almost 90 per cent of the operating costs for water supply and sanitary sewerage are fixed services such as maintenance, construction, facilities and staff. These costs are fixed and do not change regardless of how much water is used.


In 2006, after the Walkerton tragedy, the Ontario government passed many new regulations to protect drinking water. Some of the user rate increases are directly related to the increased operating costs resulting from these new regulations. To protect the health of those who live, work and play in Durham Region, it is important to maintain these systems. Not maintaining the systems would put the Region at risk for large fines from the Ministry of the Environment, water service interruptions to our customers or even threaten the quality of drinking water.


Durham Region's population is forecasted to double within 20 years. The need for new water supply plants and upgrades to Durham's aging municipal water supply system is inevitable. Through water conservation, the Region can delay building some new plants and prevent costly modifications to existing water supply plants. However, these capital program increases related to replacement and growth will eventually be required as the water and sewer infrastructure ages. In the long run, water conservation is important as it allows the resources to be used in the most cost-effective manner.


Another factor which affects the water and sanitary sewer user rate is the debt repayment increases, related to recent major plant construction (such as the Courtice Water Pollution Control Plant). These new and expanded plants are necessary to meet regulatory and replacement needs for water and sewer systems.