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Protecting our Drinking Water from Source to Tap: Checks and Balances. Ontario Environmental Network Fall Conference and Annual General Meeting: “W” is for Water Fingal, Ontario October 28, 2006. Jim Smith Chief Drinking Water Inspector Drinking Water Management Division

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protecting our drinking water from source to tap checks and balances

Protecting our DrinkingWater from Source to Tap: Checks and Balances

Ontario Environmental Network Fall Conference and Annual General Meeting:

“W” is for Water

Fingal, Ontario

October 28, 2006

Jim Smith

Chief Drinking Water Inspector

Drinking Water Management Division

Ontario Ministry of the Environment

presentation outline
Presentation Outline
  • Safeguarding our Drinking Water
  • Partnerships and Shared Responsibility
  • Checks and Balances
  • Ontario’s Source-to-Tap Safety Net
  • Key Initiatives to Watch For
safeguarding our drinking water
Safeguarding our Drinking Water
  • Over the last six years, the ministry has made fundamental shifts in our approach to safeguarding drinking water for all Ontarians.
  • We have entered a new era for drinking water management in Ontario that builds on and fosters:
    • extensive consultation, transparency, accountability, partnerships, shared responsibility, and a cautiousrisk-based approach.
  • The Government of Ontario’s integrated ‘source to tap’ approach is a reflection of scientific advancements, tragic lessons and important regulatory reforms.
safeguarding our drinking water1
Safeguarding our Drinking Water

O’Connor 2002:

  • “The goal of any drinking water system should be to deliver water with a level of risk so negligible that a reasonable and informed person would feel safe drinking the water”. (O’Connor, Report on the Walkerton Inquiry Part 2: page 74)

Chief Drinking Water Inspector 2006:

  • “Ontario’s drinking water is safe and of a very high quality. Ontarians can have confidence in the quality of their municipal drinking water.”
  • “Municipal residential drinking water systems are improving operational performance in meeting Ontario’s stringent requirements.”
ontario s water strategy
Ontario’s Water Strategy
  • Ontario is blessed with an abundance of fresh water resources, these water supplies are the cornerstone of the quality of life that we enjoy in Ontario.
  • The government's plan to safeguard our water is based on an integrated, multifaceted strategy:
    • Prohibit large-scale diversions of water from the Great Lakes,
    • Protecting our sources of drinking water from getting contaminated before they enter the drinking water systems (Clean Water Act, 2006)
    • Ensuring solid, sustained investment in our drinking water infrastructure by leading the development of a water investment strategy.
Shared Responsibility and Accountability

Ministry ofthe




Ministry of Public

Infrastructure Renewal

Drinking Water System Owners & Operators


Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Safe Drinking

Water for the


  • Federal Government
  • Health Canada
  • Indian and Northern Affairs
  • Infrastructure Canada
  • Ministry of Health
  • & Long-term Care
  • Local Medical Officers
  • of Health




  • MOE’s commitment to fostering collaborative relationships, partnerships, consultation and local engagement has contributed to understanding and achieving drinking water safety.
checks and balances
Checks and Balances
  • Our key stakeholders form an interconnected system of checks and balances and ultimately play an important role in ensuring that our drinking water management system is robust.
  • External key stakeholders also play a significant part in the ministry’s ongoing efforts to achieve and maintain increased levels of transparency and accountability.
Checks and Balances


Provincial Auditor


Chief Drinking Water Inspector

Medical Officers of Health

Ontario Legislature

Ontario Drinking Water Advisory Council

Owners and Operators


Walkerton Clean Water Centre

Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

General Public

Checks and Balances
  • Ontario Legislature
  • ENGOs
  • Sierra Legal Defence Fund
  • CELA
  • Pollution Probe
  • Waterkeepers
  • Environmental Defence

The General Public

  • Ministry of the Environment
  • Chief Drinking Water Inspector
  • Ministry of Health and Long Term Care
  • Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • Ontario Drinking Water Advisory Council
  • Walkerton Clean Water Centre
  • The Water Sector
  • Owners and Operators
  • Ontario Municipal Water Association
  • Ontario Water Works Association
  • Association of Municipalities of Ontario
  • Medical Officers of Health
  • Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
  • Provincial Auditor General

The Media

Government of Ontario

Ontario’s Drinking Water Safety Net

strengthening our safety net
Strengthening our Safety Net

Justice O’Connor’s Recommendations

The government’s commitment to safeguarding Ontario’s drinking water is founded on the approach to drinking water protection embodied in Justice O’Connor’s Report of the Walkerton Inquiry.

Checks & Balances

How MOE has/is responding

  • Committed to fulfill all recommendations. Significant progress to date:
  • Source to Tap framework through Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act
  • Mandatory inspections of municipal systems and laboratories
  • Annual Report of the Chief Drinking Water Inspector 2005/06

Areas of Improvement

  • 121 comprehensive recommendations pertaining to:
    • source protection,
    • system operations and management
    • certification and training
    • public reporting
    • municipal and provincial responsibilities/oversight
    • First Nations
strengthening our safety net1
Strengthening our Safety Net

Ontario Drinking Water Advisory Council

At the request of the Minister, the Council undertook a review of O. Reg. 170/03 to identify ways to make it more workable for smaller, private systems. In 2005 the council released a comprehensive report detailing specific reforms to improve regulatory effectiveness.

Checks & Balances

Areas of Improvement

  • O. Reg. 170 too costly and complex for smaller and private systems;
  • A need for a risk-based, site-specific approach for “categories of systems”;
  • Transfer responsibility to Public Health units (commercial/ institutional systems serving the public)

How MOE has/is responding

  • Technical amendments to O. Reg. 170
  • Developed new risk-based approach to regulating the non-residential and seasonal systems.
  • Working with MOHLTC to transfer responsibility to public health units.
strengthening our safety net2
Strengthening our Safety Net

Waterproof 2: Canada’s Drinking Water Report Card

On October 6, 2006, the Sierra Legal Defence Fund released its 2nd report card on the state of Canada’s drinking water. Ontario received an A- (up from a B in 2001), the highest grade in Canada. “We only hope other provinces will follow Ontario’s lead”.

Checks & Balances

Areas of Improvement

  • Partial implementation of O’Connor;
  • Explore alternative disinfection methods rather than chlorine;
  • Report comments on the “uncertain state of provincial action” on source protection.

How MOE has/ is responding

  • We are committed to implementing all of O’Connor’s recommendations
  • Ontario encourages use of alternative disinfection methods: UV & ozonation
  • The government has passed the Clean Water Act, 2006 this fall
strengthening our safety net3
Strengthening our Safety Net

Environmental Commissioner of Ontario - 2006 Report

On October 3, 2006, in his report entitled “Neglecting our Obligation” the Environmental Commissioner criticized the province for its neglect on the environment pointing to various areas of government inaction including water pollution.

Checks & Balances

Areas of Improvement

  • Private wells improvement (Reg. 903)
  • Criticism regarding an abbreviated public comment period for O. Reg. 252
  • Lack of environmental education
  • New regulation lowers many requirements designed to ensure safety

How MOE has/ is responding

  • We have adopted a number of the recommendations proposed by the Advisory Council on Drinking Water,
  • Consultation on Ontario’s drinking water regulations has been extensive,
  • DWMD launching information Portal in fall 2006.
strengthening our safety net4
Strengthening our Safety Net

Media – Recent Globe and Mail Article (June 2006)

Everyday the media is playing an increasingly important role in distributing information and shaping public policy. On June 1, 2006 the Globe and Mail published an article titled “Walkerton is water under the bridge, thankfully”.

Checks & Balances

Areas of Improvement

  • High cost of implementing source protection planning
  • Lack of funding and resources

“This is one of those rare occasions when government corrects the errors and omissions of the past and does it well. We should be grateful.”

How MOE has/ is responding

  • Clean Water Act, 2006 (CWA) introduces a $7 million financial assistance program, in addition to $120 million for CAs and municipalities
  • The CWA will strengthen the safety net by increasing accountability and transparency.
evolution of the safety net
Evolution of the Safety Net
  • Elements of the safety net existed prior to Walkerton
  • Significant increases in the level of effort/oversight now provided to different elements of the safety net
  • All elements of the safety net now viewed as equally necessary components of a multi-barrier approach
  • Today the network also provides a framework ensuring transparency and accountability.
strong legislation
Safety Net #


Strong Legislation

Statutory Standard of Care

Where We Are

Laboratory Licensing and Accreditation

Treatment and Testing Requirements

Key Regulation: O. Reg. 242/05 Compliance and Enforcement

  • Mandatory inspections for municipal drinking water systems and laboratories
  • Ministry must take a mandatory action within 14 days in response to finding a deficiency during an inspection,
  • Within 45 days of completing an inspection of a municipal drinking-water system, a report is sent to specific persons such as owner/operator; Medical Officer of Health
  • Provides the public with the right to submit a request for Investigation if they believe that the SDWA has been contravened

Inspections and Enforcement requirements

Operator Training and Certification


Municipal System Licensing

Notification & Reporting

Advisory Council on Drinking Water

Drinking Water Standards

clean water act 2006
1Clean Water Act, 2006

The Clean Water Act, 2006 will:

• Require municipalities and conservation authorities to map sources of municipal drinking water supply and vulnerable areas to prevent our water sources from being depleted or contaminated,

• Promote voluntary initiatives and require mandatory action where needed by empowering local authorities,

  • Require broad public consultation across watersheds, to ensure transparency and accountability in the source protection process.
  • A Risk-based Approach
  • Identify vulnerable areas
  • Identify threats and watershed issues
  • Prioritize actions and develop appropriate risk management strategies
testing central to the safety net
2Testing: Central to the Safety Net
  • The water from Ontario’s regulated drinking water systems is tested regularly for safety and quality, which includes:
    • Operational checks for turbidity, chlorine residual, equipment calibration, etc.
    • Sampling and testing requirements for microbiological, chemical and other health based and aesthetic parameters
  • Sampling and testing requirements have been designed to reflect the size/population served by the distribution system
  • Integrity of test results ensured by requirement that laboratories be licensed and use accredited methods
  • When test results show adverse water quality incidents, current regulations require immediate corrective action and notification of the ministry and the local Medical Officer of Health.
immediate notification of adverse water quality incidents
3Immediate Notification of Adverse Water Quality Incidents

Corrective Action

Resolution Report


Priority notifications trigger a field response

Reconciliation with Lab Results



MOE (Inspectors)


Local MOH

  • Spills Action Centre (MOE)
  • Local MOH
  • Operator/ Owner
  • Laboratories

Field Inspection

Information Management – Drinking Water Information Systems

stratford incident timeline
3Stratford Incident Timeline

Municipality calls SAC – Immediate Notification (#3)

Safe Drinking Water Branch notifies local Health Unit - Immediate Notification (#3)

March 7/05 - Resident reports red foamy substance in the water

City of Stratford begins flushing – Corrective Action (#3)

Drinking Water Advisory issued

Samples analyzed at licensed lab – Licensing/ Training and Cert (#4)

MOE inspector takes samples for analysis – Timely Testing (#2)

March 8 -Sample results reported to MOE -Timely Testing (#2)

Sample results uploaded to DWIS - Info Mgmt (#7)

DWA downgraded to BWA

May 2006 - Stratford incident highlighted in CDWI Annual Report – Education and Outreach (#8)

Spring 2005 - Incident referred to IEB for Investigation (#6)

March 9 -BWA rescinded

Charges laid under SDWA – Strong Legislation (#1)

Safety Net Elements

Strong Legislation

Timely, Reliable Testing

Immediate Notification of AWQI and Corrective Action

Licensing, Training and Certification

Comprehensive Inspection Program

Investigation and Enforcement

Integrated Data Acquisition and Info Mgmt

Education and Outreach

Strengthened Operator Certification and Training Requirements


  • New mandatory training requirements (Regulation 128/04):
    • Entry Level training must be completed by all new operators, includes home study and classroom components
    • Preventing Water Borne Illnesses: all operators must complete once every 3 years
  • Walkerton Clean Water Centre (WCWC) delivers:
    • MOE’s Entry Level course for operators-in-training
    • The Preventing Water-Borne Illnesses recertification course
    • The ministry’s correspondence course for small drinking water system operators in private systems
  • The WCWC has a mandate to work with First Nations to provide access to operator training on a cost recovery basis.
  • As of May 14, 2006 all remaining grandparented drinking water operators have been re-certified by exam.
municipal drinking water licensing
4Municipal Drinking Water Licensing
  • The new approvals framework will see systems apply for a license, which will consist of 5 elements (schematic at right)
  • Owners and Operating Authorities will be required to develop an Operational Plan. This Operational Plan is the key vehicle for implementing the Drinking Water Quality Management Standard.

Municipal Drinking Water Licensing

  • Implementing a quality management standard expands the focus of managing the system to include the people responsible for owning, managing and operating the system and the strategies they adopt to provide safe drinking water
  • Municipal licensing will go a long way in assisting those with oversight responsibility to meet the requirements of the Standard of Care provision
    • These provisions require that those persons with oversight responsibilities for a municipal drinking water system exercise a level of care, diligence and skill that a reasonably prudent person would be expected to take in a similar situation (s. 19, SDWA)


expanded and enhanced inspections
5Expanded and Enhanced Inspections
  • Drinking Water Inspections:
    • Ontario’s municipal drinking water inspection protocol is comprehensive  approximately 130 regulatory check points from Source to Tap
    • Each system is inspected on an annual basis
    • Ontario’s drinking water testing laboratories are licensed and inspected twice a year
    • Goal: 100% compliance







Measuring Inspection Results


  • MOE is currently developing a metric to measure the results of the municipal inspection program
  • The inspection rating will support the ministry’s commitment to continuous improvement and public transparency
    • Continuous improvement
      • Measure would track progress towards goal of 100% compliance with the regulatory framework province-wide.
    • Public transparency
      • Chief Drinking Water Inspector’s Annual Report for 2005-06 will report out on province-wide municipal drinking water system inspection results for the first time
integrated information management
6Integrated Information Management
  • Main Components:
    • Drinking Water Information System (DWIS)
      • Over 1 million results for test results received per year; > 99% meet standards
    • Laboratory and Waterworks Inspection System (LWIS)
      • Able to assess all compliance requirements across inspection years
    • Operator Certification Database - Water and Wastewater Operator Certification System (WWOCS)
      • Approx. 5,000 certified operators registered
    • MOE Drinking Water Portal Set to launch fall 2006
integrated information management1
6Integrated Information Management

Drinking Water Portal

  • This fall Ontario is launching a new drinking water portal, Drinking Water Ontario, which will help us deliver on our commitment to transparency.
  • This one-window information resource will allow web users to customize the information they want to see about drinking water.
rigorous enforcement of regulations
7Rigorous Enforcement of Regulations
  • Public health as it relates to drinking water quality is of paramount importance
  • Mandatory actions for significant non-compliance
    • Progressively more stringent actions can be taken:
      • Violations recorded
      • Orders
      • Convictions
      • Transfer of Control of System

Education and Outreach – Public Reporting

  • The ministry reports publicly on the state of Ontario’s drinking water through:
    • the Annual Report of the Minister of the Environment, which will provide an overview of drinking water programs, including source protection, drinking water quality standards and emerging issues (release of first annual report anticipated in spring 2007)
    • the Annual Report of the Chief Drinking Water Inspector, which provides information on the ministry’s inspection program, as well as water quality testing results

Education and Outreach

  • The ministry has produced over 30 plain language guidance and fact sheets to help explain to owners and operators their regulatory requirements for O. Reg. 170/03 and O. Reg. 252/05
  • MOE provides information and guidance to the regulated community regarding changes to regulatory requirements, as needed
  • In partnership with the Walkerton Clean Water Center, the MOE will be holding a series of information sessions across Ontario outlining recent amendments to O. Reg. 170/03.
    • Sessions will be an opportunity to exchange information with other owners and operators of similar drinking water system requirements
key initiatives to watch for
Key Initiatives to Watch For
  • Municipal Licensing: the ministry is preparing to post a finalized DWQMS and proposals for a number of other Licensing program elements to the Environmental Registry.
  • Minister’s first annual report and the Chief Drinking Water Inspector’s 2nd annual report are set to be released in 2007.
  • Source Water Protection – regulations to be developed under the Clean Water Act, 2006