In collaboration with the City of Guelph, the University of Guelph (U of G) has become the first university in Ontario to develop a risk management plan to help protect local drinking water sources.

“Protecting our community’s drinking water sources is important for us today and for Guelph’s future,” said Peter Rider, the source water protection program manager at the City of Guelph. “We’re pleased to see the university has a comprehensive plan in place to do their part in protecting our local drinking water sources, and we’ve enjoyed supporting them through this process.”

Risk management plans are a new tool for municipalities under the Clean Water Act. They are required under the Grand River Source Protection Plan for activities that pose a significant threat to municipal drinking water supplies.

With about 24,000 students and more than 3,500 faculty and staff members on the Guelph campus, U of G is one of the largest employers in the City of Guelph. Daily operations and lab practices at the university routinely require the use of hazardous chemicals that could pose a risk to drinking water if handled or stored improperly

“This risk management plan will help the University protect Guelph’s drinking water—both quality and quantity,” said Don O’Leary, vice-president of finance, administration, and risk at U of G. “Water is something our students, faculty, and employees all depend on, so it makes sense to be part of keeping it safe by designing this proactive plan.”

O’Leary said U of G used the city’s risk management planning framework and then incorporated U of G policies, procedures, and response programs. This includes, among other things, students, faculty, and staff knowing how to properly handle and store hazardous chemicals and materials that could put Guelph’s water supply at risk.

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City and university representatives will meet yearly for on-site inspections and to review and update the plan as needed.

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