Updates to the plan that protects the sources of municipal drinking water in the Grand River watershed were approved by the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks in June.
The updated Grand River Source Protection Plan took effect on June 5, with the exception of amendments affecting the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, which will take effect on October 1, 2020. The plan and its associated documents are now available online at www.sourcewater.ca. The Grand River Source Protection Plan was first approved in November 2015 and came into effect July 1, 2016.
The source protection planning process began in 2006 following the Walkerton Inquiry, when the Ontario government passed the Clean Water Act to protect the sources of municipal drinking water throughout the province. The process is based on technical studies, collaborative policy development, and extensive public consultation.
The process to update the plan was guided by the Lake Erie Region Source Protection Committee, which is made up of representatives from municipalities, business, industry, farmers, landowners, and other stakeholders. The committee is also responsible for updating plans for the Catfish Creek, Kettle Creek and Long Point Region watersheds.
Amendments to the Grand River Source Protection Plan have been completed for updates that affect Dufferin County (Township of Melancthon and Township of Amaranth), Oxford County (Community of Bright), the Region of Waterloo, Perth County (Township of Perth East), Wellington County (Township of Puslinch) and the City of Brantford.
“It is important to keep source protection plans up-to-date to reflect changes in infrastructure and where new information becomes available, so that communities can rest assured that their sources of drinking water are protected,” says Martin Keller, Source Protection Program Manager. “We are already working on further plan updates. These will be brought forward once studies are completed.”
Implementation of the plan policies is primarily a responsibility of municipalities and provincial ministries. Source protection plans are local science-based plans designed to protect the water quality and quantity of the lakes, rivers and sources of underground water that supply municipal drinking water systems. The plans set out actions to eliminate, manage or reduce potential risks to drinking water sources.
Policies in the Source Protection Plans include a variety of approaches to manage and prevent risks to municipal drinking water. These approaches include education and outreach, the development of risk management plans, land use planning, and monitoring. The policies are designed to ensure sufficient supplies and keep contaminants out of rivers, lakes and groundwater aquifers that are sources of municipal drinking water.
The source protection planning process is directed and funded by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks in conjunction with municipalities. Local conservation authorities provide additional technical, communications and administrative support for the source protection planning process.