The Clean Water Act: Protecting our Municipal Drinking Water Sources in Ontario

The Clean Water Act received Royal Assent in 2006 to ensure the protection of Ontario’s municipal drinking water sources. The related Drinking Water Source Protection program is administered by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP). Read more here.

Legislated Role of Conservation Authorities

Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities have legislated roles under the Clean Water Act, along with the Severn Sound Environmental Association and the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula. They are the basis of 38 Source Protection Authorities (SPAs) as specified under the Ontario Regulation 284/07. They are grouped into nineteen source protection regions/areas, each with a lead. 

The SPAs play an important role in protecting municipal drinking water for 85 per cent of Ontarians, working in collaboration with multiple stakeholders. Their legislated responsibilities include:

  • Establish and administer nineteen Source Protection Committees (SPCs) for local decision making (the lead SPAs carry out this role)
  • Assist the SPCs in their powers and duties to be carried out under the Clean Water Act
  • Provide scientific, technical and administrative support and resources to the SPCs
  • Comply with an obligation to implement a significant threat policy or designated Great Lakes policy
  • Prepare annual progress reports for each source protection plan, submit to the SPC first and then to the Director, MECP
  • Propose and prepare updates to source protection plans and undertake necessary consultations leading to a submission to the MECP
  • Issue a Notice to municipal residential drinking water system owners, upon receipt and review of necessary technical work, to support source protection planning for new or changing systems.

    In carrying out these responsibilities, conservation authorities along with their program partners support Ontario’s flagship public health program to ensure that our municipal drinking water sources are safe and abundant, now and into the future.