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Source Water Protection


Page Summary

To ensure the consistent delivery of safe and high-quality drinking water to residents and businesses, Halton Region uses a proactive multi-barrier approach to safeguard our municipal drinking water. Under the Clean Water Act, 2006, one of the first barriers in this approach is the mandatory implementation of approved Source Protection Plans.

Multi-barrier approach

The first barrier to the contamination of drinking water involves protecting the sources of drinking water.

Justice Dennis O'Connor, Walkerton Inquiry 2002.
1. Source Water Protection
A river running down a hill surrounded by rocks and trees.
2. Water Treatment System
An example of a water treatment plant.
3. Inspection
A supervisor talking with 5 employees in near a water treatment plant.
4. Testing
A table with a microscope and test tubes.
5. Distribution
A water tower surrounded by trees.
6. Drinking Water
Someone getting a glass of water out of a kitchen sink.


Sources of drinking water

Sources of drinking water include groundwater from underground aquifers and surface water from streams, rivers and lakes. These water sources are used to supply municipal drinking water systems and private wells in Halton Region.

Diagram of drinking water sources which include groundwater from underground aquifers and surface water such as creeks and lakes. These water sources supply the municipal drinking water systems through municipal wells and are processed through water treatment plants.

Source Protection Plans

Source Protection Plans contain policies to protect drinking water sources from 22 activities in vulnerable areas that may negatively impact the quality and quantity of our drinking water sources. These include:

  • Applying, handling and storing road salt and snow storage
  • Handling and storing fuels, solvents, hazardous waste and other related chemicals
  • Activities that reduce return of water into the ground
  • Applying, handling, and storing pesticides, fertilizers, agricultural and non-agricultural materials
  • Activities that take water without returning it to the same water source
  • Installing or modifying septic and other sewage systems
  • Use of land for livestock yards and/or pasturing
  • Establishment and operation of a liquid hydrocarbon pipeline

Source Protection Plans within Halton Region for each Source Protection Region include:

Are you in a vulnerable area that may be subject to Source Protection Plans?

Use the Province's Source Protection Information Atlas GIS Tool

For more information, call 311 or contact the Halton Region Source Protection staff at

Source Protection Plan policy tools

Source Protection Plans outline how different identified threats to drinking water sources will be reduced or eliminated as well as ways in which future threats will be avoided. There are a variety of different policy options available that could be used including:

Prescribed instruments

Using a legal document issued by the Provincial government allowing an activity to be carried out (Nutrient Management Plan, Environmental Certification of Approval, etc.).

Risk Management Plans

This involves the negotiation between a Risk Management Official and the landowner to regulate how an activity that is a significant drinking water threat is managed.

Land use planning

Land use planning involves using current or new by-laws and land use zoning to address current and future threats to water sources.

Education and outreach

Distributing information to educate residents and businesses on water protection activities.


As a last resort prohibiting or restricting land use activities which have been identified as drinking water threats.

Risk Management Plans

Risk Management Plans (RMPs) are best-practice management tools to help residents and businesses protect drinking water sources. Through a preventative focus, Risk Management Plans are specific to the type of property and its activities that may pose a risk to drinking water. These plans are negotiated between the person engaged in the activity and Halton Region’s Risk Management Official. RMPs are legally-binding under the Clean Water Act, 2006.

Risk Management Plans are required when site-specific activities may impact the quality and/or quantity of drinking water in vulnerable areas.

These may be existing activities or future activities proposed through building and planning applications. In both cases, municipal staff will contact persons and organizations involved in existing and/or future threat activities in order to:

  1. Determine if a Risk Management Plan is required.
  2. Answer any questions related to the Clean Water Act, 2006, Source Water Protection or Risk Management Plans.
  3. Provide helpful resources outlining the process and timelines for establishing Risk Management Plans.

The process for developing a Risk Management Plan (RMP) is as follows:

  1. Halton Region contacts resident/business to initiate consultation regarding the development of a Risk Management Plan.
  2. Halton Region provides resources and technical support to the resident/business to prepare the Risk Management Plan.
  3. Halton Region works with the resident/business to prepare the Risk Management Plan.
  4. Halton Region reviews the Risk Management Plan. If edits or additional details are required, Halton Region will notify the resident/business. If the Risk Management Plan is adequate, Halton Region will approve and finalize it.

To assist this process, Halton Region has created the Risk Management Plan Guidance document to help residents and business owners understand the information that is required to prepare and submit a Risk Management Plan.

Call 311 to request a copy of the Risk Management Plan Guidance document.

  Did you know?

Risk Management Plans may require regular on-site inspections by Halton Region’s Source Protection staff to ensure that potential drinking water threats are managed properly.


Additional resources