FAQs

1. Where can I find more information on the Walkerton Inquiry?

For more information or to view the report online you can go to: http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca External Link

2. Where can I find more detailed information on the roles and responsibilities for the Clean Water Act, 2006 (CWA)?

  • Ontario Ministry of the Environment - Since the creation of the CWA by the government of Ontario, the province continues to provide guidance and assistance by setting rules, time limits and other regulations.

  • Source Protection Authority (SPA) - First bodies to be created under the CWA. Usually consists of existing Conservation Authorities. They will establish the Source Protection Committee and provide support to the Committee during the Source Protection planning process.

  • Source Protection Committee (SPC) - Consists of municipal representatives, business sector representatives and general interest representatives. The Committee is responsible for developing a ‘Terms of Reference’, an Assessment Reports, and a Source Protection Plan for their region.

  • Municipalities - Will be ultimately responsible to implement policies developed by the Source Protection Committees to reduce risks posed by threat activities located in areas under their jurisdiction.

  • Private Landowners/Businesses/Public - Individual property owners and local businesses will participate in addressing significant drinking water threats. The CWA requires public participation on the development of every local Source Protection Plan.

More information on the roles and responsibilities for the Clean Water Act, 2006 can be found at the Ministry of the Environment's website. External Link

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3. What is a watershed?

A watershed is an area of land from which surface runoff, including water, sediments, nutrients and potential contaminants, drain into a common water body, such as a lake, river or stream.

4. What is an aquifer?

An aquifer is an underground formation of water-bearing permeable rock or loose material. The pore spaces in aquifers are filled with water and are interconnected, so that water flows through them. Aquifers can produce useful quantities of water when tapped into by a well. They can range from a few square kilometres to thousands of square kilometres in size.

5. What can you do protect drinking water sources on and around your property?

There are some actions individuals can undertake to assist in assuring safe drinking water sources, these include conservation and protection.

Conserving water around your property:

  • Make sure showerheads are water efficient, taps have water saving aerators and toilets are low flow.
  • Use a rain barrel to collect water for use in the garden and lawn and disconnect your eavestrough downspout from the sewer.

Protecting water around your property:

  • Don't use drains as dumps. Dispose of unused paints, cleaners, pesticides and medical prescriptions at Halton's Hazardous Waste Facility located at the Halton Waste Management Site 5400 Regional Road 25, Milton).
  • Avoid spilling oil or fuel on the ground when filling gas tanks for cars, boats, tractors and lawnmowers.

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6. Where are our water supplies most vulnerable?

The Assessment Reports describe four types of vulnerable areas:

  1. Wellhead Protection Areas – where groundwater travels to a municipal well.
  2. Intake Protection Zones – around municipal surface drinking water intakes.
  3. Highly Vulnerable Aquifers – where the underground water source is more susceptible to contamination.
  4. Significant Drinking Water Recharge Areas – where a large proportion of water gets absorbed back into aquifers.

The Assessment Reports provide information about activities within these vulnerable areas that are or could pose a threat to municipal drinking water sources.

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7. How are possible drinking water threats identified and what are the different types of threats?

Qualified professionals working on behalf of Conservation Authorities have used a variety of means to identify and prioritize activities that may be threats to drinking water. The basic prioritization process was developed by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to provide consistency across Ontario. The assessments have examined documents such as publicly available industrial databases. In some cases, they have obtained information directly from property owners. The Assessment Reports identify the number and type of potential threats to drinking water sources.

The activities identified as threats to drinking water under the Clean Water Act, 2006 include:

  • Waste disposal sites
  • Sewage systems (including septic)
  • Agricultural and non-agricultural source material applied to land, stored, handled or  managed
  • Commercial fertilizer applied, handled or stored
  • Pesticides applied to land, handled or stored
  • Road salt applied, handled or stored
  • Snow storage
  • Fuel handled or stored
  • Activities taking water from an aquifer (groundwater) or surface water body (lake or river)
  • Activities reducing recharge of an aquifer’s underground water source (e.g., pavement)
  • The handling and storage of a dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) (e.g., oil & solvent)
  • Organic solvents handled or stored
  • Chemicals used in the de-icing of aircraft
  • Livestock grazing, pasturing, outdoor confinement areas and farm-animal yards

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8.  Who could be affected by Source Protection Planning?

The Source Protection Planning process could affect industries, farmers, businesses, rural residents and others who own property in the protection zones around municipal wells. It’s of particular importance to property owners who use or store materials that could pose a risk to municipal drinking water sources. These include chemicals, fertilizers, manure, human waste found in septic systems and other materials.

9. What if there is a ‘significant threat’ on your property?

The Assessment Reports will list the number and type of significant threats near municipal water sources. Property owners will receive individual notification if an activity on their land has been identified as a potential significant threat. They will then have the opportunity to provide additional information about the nature of the activity and anything they have done to reduce the impact on water sources.

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