As of December 1, 2008, the way the Ontario government regulates small drinking water systems has changed. The government’s responsibility for Small Drinking Water Systems was transferred on December 1, 2008 to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care from the Ministry of the Environment. This means that businesses or premises that use well water or other private drinking water systems and supply drinking water to the public will be required to register their Small Drinking Water Systems with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
Small Drinking Water Systems can include restaurants, seasonal trailer parks, summer camps, community centres, libraries, gas stations, motels, churches and many other public facilities. In Halton Region, these changes mean that a Public Health Inspector from the Halton Region Health Department will conduct a site-specific assessment of the drinking water system. The result of this assessment will determine what each operator of the small drinking water system must do to keep the drinking water supply safe. A directive will be issued to the operator which will be outline steps that need to be taken to ensure the water is safe to drink. The directive may include requirements such as water testing, treatment and training.
“Health Department staff work with a number of water system operators in Halton to ensure water supplies are safe,” stated Halton Region Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Bob Nosal. “This new approach for small drinking water systems will help ensure safe drinking water through site-specific protective measures, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.”
As a system owner or operator, there are new responsibilities under the new Small Drinking Water Systems regulations. Immediate steps to ensure the water is safe include:
- Protecting drinking water at the source
- Testing well water through MOE licensed laboratories (a list of licensed labs is available at here)
- Monitoring the drinking water system regularly
- Maintaining the drinking water system
- Treating water with a disinfection system if lab results show unacceptable levels of contamination
- Notifying the public when there’s a problem