The Ministry of the Environment posted a proposal on the Environmental Registry on January 25, 2010 for a 60-day comment period to make amendments to O. Reg. 287/07 under the Clean Water Act, 2006 (Act), in order to set out content and consultation requirements for the development of drinking water source protection plans, and to include the necessary provisions to implement Part IV of the Act that will address significant drinking water threats in wellhead protection areas and intake protection zones. On June 17th, 2010, Ontario Regulation 246/10 was filed which amends O. Reg. 287/07.
The purpose of the Clean Water Act, 2006 is to protect existing and future sources of drinking water. A key focus of the legislation is the preparation of locally developed, science-based assessment reports and source protection plans.
This decision to amend O. Reg. 287/07, the General Regulation under the Act, was necessary in order to enable 19 source protection committees to develop source protection plans for the 38 source protection areas across the province. The Act contains a number of provisions setting out the basic requirements related to the preparation of these plans and requires additional detail and authorities to be prescribed in regulation. The amendments set out provisions related to:
- contents of a source protection plan,
- a list of prescribed instruments that would be required to conform to the significant threat policies of the plan and have regard to the other applicable policies,
- the preparation of an explanatory document to support the plan, including an explanation of how the financial implications of the proposed policies were considered during plan development, and an explanation of the committee’s rationale for each policy,
- consultation during the development of the plan,
- progress reporting to ensure transparency during implementation, and
- training and qualifications for risk management officials and risk management inspectors who exercise authority under Part IV and for persons with qualifications who are authorized to make statements in relation to risk management plans and risk assessments under that Part.
The regulation also contains provisions that enable and govern the implementation of Part IV of the Act, including:
- circumstances in which a municipality can address significant threats through an interim risk management plan in advance of source protection plan approval,
- the types of significant drinking water threats that Part IV can regulate, and
- the limited circumstances under which activities that are a significant threat to drinking water can be prohibited.
A summary of the regulation amendments is available through the link provided in this notice. For a complete record of all the provisions of the amended regulation, please refer to the amended regulation on the e-laws website through the link provided in this notice.
The regulatory amendments are crucial for the successful continuation of the source protection program, with the intended outcome of effectively protecting the approximately 480 municipal residential drinking water systems that serve or are planned to serve major residential developments – which serve the bulk of Ontario’s population. They would also allow for the ultimate realization of Justice O’Connor’s vision for source-to-tap drinking water protection, which he described in the Report of the Walkerton Inquiry.
Prior to posting the draft regulation, a policy discussion paper was posted on the Environmental Registry on June 25, 2009 for a 90-day comment period, Environmental Registry Number 010-6726. The purpose of the discussion paper was to seek feedback from the public, stakeholders, communities, and First Nations on the proposed content of regulation governing source protection plans and their implementation. The feedback received on the discussion paper informed the content of the draft regulation.
The draft regulation was posted on the Environmental Registry and the Regulatory Registry on January 25, 2010 for a 60-day comment period that closed March 26, 2010.
There were 86 written submissions on the draft regulation. A series of focused, multi-stakeholder consultations were also held in a number of locations across the province, including Kingston, Milton, Sudbury, Toronto, and London, and a videoconference was held with stakeholders in Thunder Bay. The sessions were well attended by source protection committee chairs and members, conservation authority staff, and other stakeholders representing agriculture, municipalities, environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs), business/industry and the general public.
Additional sector-specific discussions were held with key stakeholders, including agricultural groups, ENGOs, and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. Discussions were also held with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Ministry of Natural Resources, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
All comments received were considered by the ministry in developing the proposed regulatory amendments.