Clean Water Act

The Clean Water Act is part of the Ontario government’s commitment to implement all of the recommendations of the Walkerton Inquiry. The legislation directly addresses 12 and supports the implementation of 22 recommendations of the Walkerton Inquiry on protecting drinking water at its source.

Communities are required to create and carry out plans to protect the sources of their municipal drinking water.

The Clean Water Act:

  • Requires local communities to look at the existing and potential threats to their water and set out and implement the actions necessary to reduce or eliminate significant threats.
  • Empowers communities to take action to prevent threats from becoming significant.
  • Requires public participation on every local source protection plan. This means everyone in the community gets a chance to contribute to the planning process.
  • Requires that all plans and actions are based on sound science.
  • This legislation is designed to promote voluntary initiatives but does require mandatory action where needed. The legislation sets out a basic framework for communities to follow in developing an approach to protecting their municipal water supplies that works for them.
  • Identifies and assess risks to the quality and quantity of municipal drinking water sources and decides which risks are significant and need immediate action, which need monitoring to ensure they do not become significant, or which pose a low or negligible risk.
  • Develops a source protection plan that sets out how the risks will be addressed. Broad consultation involves municipalities, conservation authorities, property owners, farmers, industry, businesses, community groups, public health officials, First Nations and the public in coming up with workable, effective solutions.
  • Carries out the plans through existing land use planning and regulatory requirements or approvals, or voluntary initiatives. Activities that pose a significant risk to drinking water sources may be prohibited or may require a site specific risk management plan. This plan sets out the measures that a property owner will take to ensure the activity is no longer a threat.
  • Stays vigilant through ongoing monitoring and reporting to measure the effectiveness of the actions taken to protect drinking water sources and ensure they are protected in the future.

For more information visit the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change website.