Source Water Protection

The Source Protection Plan (SPP) protects municipal wells and surface water intakes from specific activities that may pose a threat to drinking water. The Ontario government passed the Clean Water Act in 2006 to protect drinking water as a result of the Walkerton E. coli outbreak tragedy in May 2000. The Clean Water Act established a process for developing local, watershed-based Source Protection Plans. 

The Region of Waterloo is responsible for reviewing development applications and building permits for source protection concerns, enforcing prohibitions in the most vulnerable areas for high risk activities, negotiating risk management plans to outline best practices to manage threats, and creating education and incentive programs.

Building permits and planning approval applications

Every property that is in a vulnerable area must include a Notice of Source Protection Plan Compliance or Section 59 Notice with a building permit or planning approval application. The notice is a signed declaration that the activities on the property comply with Source Protection Plan policies. Building permits and planning approval applications for source protection areas are only granted after screening for potential threats to drinking water. Some permits and applications may be refused or may first require a Risk Management Plan.

Properties requiring the negotiation of a Risk Management Plan should first contact the Risk Management Official. This is to confirm whether a Risk Management Plan is required and to discuss next steps. The plan includes practices to help reduce the risk of the activity to our drinking water supplies.

To submit your application you must first find out if Source Protection Plan policies apply:

  1. Open the Threats and Policy System (TAPS) source water protection mapping tool
  2. Click on "I need a document to attach to a building permit or planning approval application"
  3. Enter the property location
  4. Answer the questions as prompted
  5. Follow instructions on how to proceed 

Watch the video: Applying for a Notice of Source Water Protection for instructions on using the Threats and Policy System (TAPS).

Negotiating Risk Management Plans

A Risk Management Plan is a legally binding agreement between you and the Region of Waterloo's Risk Management Official. It is a site-specific negotiated agreement identifying best management practices you will use to protect our community's water supply from activities occurring on your property.

If you need a Risk Management Plan you will either be:

  • contacted by the Risk Management Official if you are located in a source protection area and already doing one of the activities which requires a risk management plan. The property owner does not need to do anything until contacted by the Risk Management Official. There are many properties in the Region that require Risk Management Plans and it will take several years to reach every one.
  • through the building permit and planning approval application process. The Building Permits and Planning Approval Applications section on this page includes how to find out if Source Protection Plan policies apply and, if required, resources to negotiate a Risk Management Plan.

The Source Protection Plan: negotiating your Risk Management Plan fact sheet provides additional information.

Financial incentives

Changing practices can be difficult and expensive. Financial incentives are available through the Source Protection Plan to help offset the cost to implement source protection policies. The Risk Management Official will inform you of any available incentives while working with you on source protection policies that apply to your property.

Funding for private well owners

The Region of Waterloo also provides funding to support decommissioning and upgrading private wells to protect municipal sources of drinking water. Private well owners are responsible for keeping their wells in good working condition, and properly decommissioning wells that are no longer in use under Ontario Regulation 903. Decommissioning is the process of plugging and sealing the well to prevent bacteria and contaminants from entering groundwater and negatively affecting water quality in other drinking water wells. For more information or to determine eligibility for funding, please contact the Region of Waterloo Risk Management Official.

Other grant programs

Grants may also be available through other organizations including:

Activities in the Source Protection Plan

The Lake Erie Source Protection web site includes resources on source water protection. Information for specific sectors can be found under the tabs below.

Agriculture and farming

Chemical handling and storage

Residential properties: heating oil storage, private wells and septic systems

Heating oil storage

Private wells

Septic systems

Winter maintenance of parking lots

Legislative resources

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