Drinking water policy, as it impacts both quality and quantity, is for the most part set by the provincial government, with major responsibility residing with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE). The MOE’s Drinking Water Ontario website is a point of access to a wealth of information on policies and regulations in Ontario.
All municipal drinking water systems (approx. 700 in Ontario) are regulated by MOE. Owners and operators of municipal systems must ensure their systems—and the water their systems provide—meet the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Ontario’s Clean Water Act helps protect drinking water from source to tap with a multi-barrier approach designed to stop contaminants from entering sources of drinking water – lakes, rivers and aquifers. The Act requires local communities, through local Source Protection Committees, to assess existing and potential threats to their water, and then implement measures to reduce or eliminate these threats.
The Ontario Water Works Association is involved with the establishment and review of provincial government policies and programs affecting drinking water through the work of OWWA’s Government Affairs Committee. In addition, OWWA executive members regularly meet with senior staff of MOE’s Drinking Water Branch to discuss issues of concern.
Ontario’s municipal governments are responsible for policies that impact sourcing, treating and distributing drinking water. Residential and commercial/industrial water rates are established by the municipalities.
The federal government has jurisdiction related to fisheries, navigation, federal lands, and international relations with respect to the management of boundary waters shared with the United States International Joint Commission.
Environment Canada works closely with more than 20 other federal departments to address nationally significant freshwater issues.
For more details about policy and regulations there is no better place to start than the Ministry of the Environment’s Drinking Water Ontario.
Water Opportunities and Conservation Act
The Ontario Legislature passed the Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act on November 23, 2010. The act builds on Ontario’s expertise in water protection services and technology — making our province the leading clean water jurisdiction in North America.
The new act sets the framework to:
- Make Ontario a North American leader in developing water technologies and services and making our expertise available to the world through the creation of the Water Technology Acceleration Project (TAP) Encourage Ontarians to use water more efficiently by creating and implementing innovative approaches to protect our most valuable resource Strengthen sustainable municipal water planning by helping them identify and plan for long term infrastructure needs.
- Encourage Ontarians to use water more efficiently by creating and implementing innovative approaches to protect our most valuable resource so our children and grandchildren will continue to have access to clean drinking water for generations
- Strengthen sustainable municipal water planning by helping municipalities identify and plan for long term infrastructure needs.
Click here to view the Water Opportunities and Conservation Act in its entirety.