Text Size


source water

What's New

Keep your eyes open for the new Drinking Water Protection Zone signs!
They are appearing across Ontario to protect public health and raise awareness of the sensitivity of our drinking water sources. More information is available in the Drinking Water Protection Zone Road Signs catalogue page in the Source Water Protection Education and Outreach catalogue on Conservation Ontario’s website. A page on Water Conservation has also been posted. It helps help homeowners and businesses understand their water use and gives tips on how to use less. We encourage you to view the new catalogue pages and promote them through social media at #SourceWaterON.

Visit the new Source Water Protection Map now available on Ontario.ca
NEWMARKET (February 5, 2016) - This interactive map provides the first provincial view of the more than 970 wellhead protection areas and 150 intake protection zones within the source protection areas in Ontario. You can access over 20 layers of information every time you do a customized search. It is available in: English and French. The public will be able to see the wellhead protection areas and intake protection zones of the lakes, rivers and aquifers that supply their drinking water, on a provincial scale map. This tool provides them with information needed to make informed property-based decisions. As well, this tool will help ministries and other agencies implement source protection plan policies. As well, a direct link to the map can be found in the updated General Messages page of the Source Water Protection Resource Catalogue available on Conservation Ontario’s website.

Province approves all 22 Source Protection Plans
NEWMARKET (January 11, 2016) - The Ontario Drinking Water Source Protection (DWSP) program has reached a significant milestone with the approval of all 22 Source Protection Plans by Ontario's Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC). The DWSP program is funded by the MOECC and is part of the government's plan to protect its drinking water and the environment. READ MORE

The Clean Water Act

The Clean Water Act is part of the Ontario government's commitment to implementing all of the recommendations of the Walkerton Inquiry. For the first time, communities will be required to create and carry out a plan to protect the sources of their municipal drinking water supplies. For more information...

Source Protection Plans

As a result of the Clean Water Act , Communities in Ontario are required to develop source protection plans in order to protect their municipal sources of drinking water. These plans identify risks to local drinking water sources and develop a strategies to reduce or eliminate these risks. Because it is everyone's responsibility to protect our water resources, broad consultation throughout the development of the source protection plans is important and involves municipalities, Conservation Authorities, property owners, farmers, industry, businesses, community groups, public health officials, First Nations. For more information on Source Protection Planning and the technical studies involved.


"The first barrier to the contamination of drinking water involves
protecting the sources of drinking water."
- Justice Dennis O'Connor, Walkerton Inquiry 2002

Water is critical to all aspects of our lives and it is important that we ensure there is a safe and reliable source of water for all our uses - now and in the future.

Our drinking water comes from lakes, rivers, streams or underground sources (aquifers) located across the province. All of these sources of water are linked in a watershed through the water cycle. Drinking water sources can be easily contaminated and have a limited tolerance for stress. Long terms problems can develop that are costly or even impossible to correct.

In order to make sure we have enough clean water for drinking and other uses, we need to protect sources by managing the influences on them. The best way to protect sources of water is on a watershed basis because water flows across traditional boundaries such as towns and cities. Conservation Authorities are the only watershed management agencies in Ontario that are organized on a watershed basis (see Map).

Drinking water is best protected by taking an approach that uses multiple barriers to prevent contamination from affecting our drinking water. Known as the 'multibarrier approach', it includes taking actions to prevent contamination of sources of our water, using adequate water treatment and distribution systems, water testing and training of water managers. In his Walkerton Inquiry, Justice O'Connor called for a multiple-barrier water management approach to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring again. He concluded that source protection is one of the most effective and efficient means of protecting the safety of Ontario's drinking water. He also made 22 recommendations related to source water protection planning, including the need to develop legislation that would require source protection plans to be developed and implemented locally for every watershed in Ontario.