Protecting Water

Imagine a day without clean drinking water

Every day you drink it, cook and wash with it and so much more. In Waterloo Region, some of our drinking water starts its journey at the Grand River but most is from groundwater wells.

Protecting our drinking water sources from contamination helps to ensure clean water for now and in the future. These documents help to guide the Region of Waterloo on keeping water clean, areas to protect, activities to manage and programs to deliver.

How you can help keep water clean
At your urban home: At your rural home: Around the farm: On industrial properties:
Source Protection Plan and Clean Water Act

The Ontario government passed the Clean Water Act in 2006 to protect water supplies from contamination by developing source protection plans. The Source Protection Plan (SPP) 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.

Learn more about the Source Protection Plan and how it might affect you.

Draining pool, hot tub and spa water

1. Why is it important for owners to properly drain water from pools, hot tubs and spas?

Water from pools, hot tubs and spas contains chemicals such as chlorine, bromine, salt and algaecides that can be harmful to the natural environment and our drinking water supply.

2. What are your responsibilities as a homeowner when planning to discharge from a pool, hot tub or spa?

Ensure that the discharge from your pool, hot tub or spa does not result in an impact to the natural environment or other surrounding properties.

3. Who do I contact to report a spill or improper discharge of water from pools, hot tubs and spas?

To report a spill, contact the Region’s Service First Call Centre at 519-575-4400 (Deaf and Hard of Hearing (TTY) at 519-575-4608). Additional information on spills prevention and response available on the Region of Waterloo report a spill web page.

4. How to drain pool, hot tub and spa water of:

 Chlorinated water (including backwash)
Option 1: Discharge to the storm sewer system
  • Test for chlorine level (test strips)
  • De-chlorinate or allow water to sit until the chlorine dissipates
  • Ensure water is free of debris
  • Do not discharge on a rainy day as it may overwhelm storm sewer system
  • Do not flood roadways, sidewalks or neighbouring properties
Option 2: Discharge onto permeable surface on your property
  • Do not impact neighbouring properties
 Saltwater (including backwash)
Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge residents:
  • Option 1: discharge to the sanitary sewer system connection (eg. a laundry sink) located on your own property.
  • Option 2: haul by a Ministry of the Environment, Conservation & Parks (MECP) licensed hauler.

All other area municipality residents:

  • Haul by a Ministry of the Environment, Conservation & Parks (MECP) licensed hauler.
 Rain or snow melt water from pool covers
Option 1: Discharge to the storm sewer system
  • Ensure water is free of debris
  • Do not discharge on a rainy day as it may overwhelm storm sewer system
  • Do not flood roadways, sidewalks or neighboring properties

Option 2: Discharge onto permeable surface on your property

  • Do not impact neighbouring properties

If you have further questions regarding proper disposal of your pool, hot tub or spa water, email the Region of Waterloo’s Environmental Enforcement & Laboratory Services or call 519-650-8260 (business hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).

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

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
Drinking Water Protection Zone road signs

Drinking Water Protection Zone signs are a reminder we all have a role to play to protect this important resource.

Look for Drinking Water Protection Zone signs on regional roads and within Wellhead Protection Areas. Or use the Conservation Ontario map for locations throughout Ontario.

Each municipal supply well is in a Wellhead Protection Area. A Wellhead Protection Area is the capture zone that provides groundwater to the supply well. The capture zone includes the length of time and path groundwater takes to reach the well. In Waterloo Region, 120+ municipal wells supply the water we drink.

Region of Waterloo drinking water protection zone road sign

Brownfield sites

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.

Other resources

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