Frequently Asked Questions:
Drinking Water Source Protection
What is Source Water Protection?
Source water protection is simply protecting water resources such as lakes, rivers and groundwater, from contamination or overuse. Water is critical to all aspects of our lives, including health, recreation and development. Protecting the sources of our water is important to ensure that there is enough safe water for all our uses - now and in the future.
What is Drinking Water Source Protection?
Drinking Water Source Protection is a derivative of Ontario's Clean Water Act and calls for the development and implementation of locally developed plans that will protect current and future sources of municipal drinking water systems. The municipal systems included in the North Bay - Mattawa plan include Callander, North Bay, Mattawa, Powassan and South River.
How do we make sure our municipal drinking water is safe now?
A number of actions are taken to prevent our water from becoming contaminated, ensuring that it is safe and clean from source to tap. These include using up to date water treatment systems, ensuring that the pipes, water mains and storage towers are in good repair, water testing and training water managers.
Why does Ontario need a Clean Water Act and how will it protect Ontario’s municipal drinking water?
The Clean Water Act will help reduce risks to municipal drinking water sources by addressing threats to drinking water quality and quantity. It establishes a locally driven, science-based, multi-stakeholder process to protect municipal drinking water sources and promotes the notion of stewardship — the shared responsibility of all stakeholders to protect the integrity of local sources of public drinking water.
Does the Clean Water Act require that private wells be metered?
No. There are no provisions in the Clean Water Act related to the metering of private wells. The provincial government has never stated nor has it had the intention of requiring meters on private, individual wells. Municipalities may decide to require meters for users of municipally supplied water as part of an overall water conservation plan.
Under The Clean Water Act, what role will municipalities play in the source water protection framework?
Municipalities already have extensive authority for the delivery of municipal drinking water and land use planning within their boundaries and are therefore in the best position to determine what protections are required for their sources of drinking water.
The Clean Water Act has been designed to build on existing municipal responsibilities in the protection of drinking water. Municipalities played a crucial role bringing forward policies in the source protection plan for the Source Protection Committee's consideration.
What role does Source Protection Authorities and Source Protection Committees play in the source water protection framework?
Source Protection Authority (SPA)
The Act calls for each Source Protection Authority establish a multi-stakeholder Source Protection Committee (SPC). The SPAs are primarily responsible for overseeing and coordinating the planning process and providing administrative, technical and scientific support to the Source Protection Committee. SPAs have no approval role in the legislation – they can merely provide comments on a Terms of Reference, Assessment Report and Source Protection Plan before it is submitted to the Ministry. The Assessment Report and Source Protection Plan must be submitted to the MOE by the SPA. SPAs cannot make decisions on behalf of a municipality or undertake decisions that would compel a municipality to undertake certain actions without a municipality’s consent.
Source Protection Committee (SPC)
The SPC is responsible for preparing the Terms of Reference, the Assessment Report and the Source Protection Plan and must ensure that stakeholders and the public in the watershed are consulted throughout the process. Through the SPC, municipalities will work across the watershed, identifying, assessing and addressing risks to drinking water within their municipal wellhead and intake protection areas. Stakeholders such as local property owners could also participate through working groups, supporting and consulting on the work of the SPC.
How does the legislation apply to First Nations communities in the province?
Provision of drinking water to First Nations is a federal responsibility. The province will continue to work with the federal government and First Nation communities and representatives to develop a voluntary process for protecting drinking water sources in areas under federal jurisdiction. First Nations communities will also have the opportunity to be represented on the multi-stakeholder Source Protection Committee (SPC). The province has been in discussions with First Nations and the federal government on how to address threats to First Nations drinking water supplies.
Is the provincial government going to fund source water protection implementation?
The actual costs of source protection implementation were considered and debated as a part of the Source Protection Plan development.
The protection of drinking water sources is a shared responsibility, therefore the costs of source water protection implementation (i.e. protection measures / responses) will be borne across many sectors (e.g., industry, agriculture, landowners) not just municipalities. The provincial government will be responsible for the cost of implementing policies that affect their business models.