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Water and Wastewater

Understanding the background for Source Water Protection

As a result of the Walkerton Incident, the Ontario government enacted the Clean Water Act, 2006 (CWA, 2006) and the associated regulations to ensure protection of water at its source and to ensure that every resident has access to safe and clean drinking water. The main focus of CWA, 2006 is to protect existing and future planned municipal sources of drinking water.

The CWA, 2006 prompted the formation of the Source Protection Authorities and Committees in Ontario, which are managed by surrounding Conservation Authorities. The Source Protection Committees consist of representatives from municipalities, agriculture and economic sectors, public appointees, first nations and representatives appointed by the Province of Ontario. The mandate of the Committees is to develop a science-based Source Protection Plan and policies for each source protection area, to ensure the protection of existing and future municipal drinking water sources.

"The first barrier to the contamination of drinking water involves protecting the sources of drinking water. I recommend that the Province adopt a watershed-based planning process, led by the Ministry of the Environment and by the Conservation Authorities (where appropriate), and involving local actors. The purpose is to develop a source protection plan for each watershed in the province..."
Justice Dennis O'Connor, The Walkerton Inquiry, 2002

Justice O'Connor concluded that source protection is one of the most effective and efficient means of protecting the safety of Ontario's drinking water. He also made 22 recommendations related to source water protection planning, including the need to develop legislation that would require source protection plans to be developed and implemented locally for every watershed in Ontario.

For more information on the Walkerton Inquiry or to review the Ontario Ministry of the Environment's progress on these recommendations visit the following links.

Other barriers involved in the multi-barrier approach are up-to-date water treatment systems, reliable distribution systems, professional training for water managers and careful and regular testing of our water supplies. Source water protection also protects against overuse by determining how much water is available compared to how much is needed.

Drinking water multi barrier approach

For more information on source water background or other source water facts, please visit the CTC Source Protection Region website or Conservation Ontario website.

Revised: Wednesday November 06 2013

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