Protecting Water

Protecting our drinking water sources from contamination helps to ensure clean water for our growing community. Look for Drinking Water Protection Zone signs on regional roads and within Wellhead Protection Areas as a reminder we all have role to play protecting this important resource.

  • The Region of Waterloo provides 24-hour emergency response to environmental spills. Report a spill immediately if you witness a spill or suspect one has occurred or is about to occur. Quick actions can reduce clean-up time and protect the local environment.
  • The Clean Water Act in 2006 protects water supplies from contamination by developing source protection plans that protects municipal wells and surface water intakes from specific activities that may pose a threat to drinking water. The Grand River Source Protection Plan protects municipal drinking water sources in Waterloo Region.
  • Chapter 8 of the Regional Official Plan contains policies for the protection and conservation of the Region’s drinking-water resources. These policies form an important component of the Region’s Water Resource Protection Strategy, and play a critical role in the Region’s multi-barrier approach to providing safe drinking-water.

Commercial programs and resources

Agriculture and farming
Brownfield site development
The Potable Groundwater Criteria Use document outlines requirements of the developer for the clean up of groundwater on a brownfield site. Learn more about planning and development services and incentives for brownfield sites.
Chemical handling and storage

When a spill occurs, follow your spills response plan and report all spills immediately.

Salt management: winter maintenance

Salt is a major water quality concern. We have winter maintenance resources to help your business can take to use less salt, manage slip and fall hazards and protect your property from over salting.

Sewer Use By-law and industrial monitoring enforcement
The Sewer Use By-law 21-036 regulates and controls discharge of water and wastewater into the sanitary and/or storm sewer distribution system in Waterloo Region. The by-law protects the wastewater distribution system, the wastewater treatment plant operation and ultimately water quality of the Grand River. You can use this online form to apply for a permit under the Sewer Use By-Law.
Spills response and cleanup

Report a spill immediately if you witness a spill or suspect one has occurred or is about to occur. Quick actions can reduce clean-up time and protect the local environment. A spill is the release of a substance that is harmful to the environment into the sewer or the environment. This may include oil, fuel, chemicals or pesticides.

The Region of Waterloo provides 24-hour emergency response to environmental spills. Responsibilities include:

  • A prompt investigation of reported spills
  • Containment or cleanup measures to minimize damage to the natural environment
  • Notifying affected parties if a chemical spill could affect the Region of Waterloo Mannheim and/or Brantford drinking water treatment plants

If you handle or store chemicals, display our Report All Spills poster with who to call in case of a spill.

Residential programs and resources

Household hazardous waste

Consider cleaning with green alternatives and natural options whenever possible and properly dispose of household hazardous waste.

Heating oil systems

Inspect home heating oil tanks regularly. Upgrade old tanks, use drip trays and install alarms to identify leaks.

Pools and hot tubs

Homeowners are responsible for the proper discharge of water from their pool or hot tub. This water contains chemicals such as chlorine, bromine, salt and algaecides that can be harmful to the natural environment and our drinking water supply. 

Discharging these chemicals to storm sewers or a waterway is considered an environmental spill and those responsible can be held accountable.

Learn about discharging options for your pool and hot tub and how to report a spill.

Private wells and septic systems

Private wells:

Septic systems:

Salt management: snow and ice clearing
Salt is a major water quality concern. Consider these snow and ice clearing tips to help keep salt out of groundwater.
Salt management: water softeners

Water softeners flush salty backwash water down the drain that eventually ends up in our waterways. This salty water can be harmful to fresh water plants and animals. The Water Softener Facts website is a great resource on water softeners.

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