Source Water Protection
Table of Contents
Protecting our local drinking water sources is part of Ontario's drinking water safety net. The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change's (MOECC) Clean Water Act, 2006 helps ensure public health by protecting existing and future sources of municipal drinking water. The act helps communities protect their drinking water through prevention by developing collaborative, watershed-based Source Protection Plans. Source protection planning and implementation helps to protect drinking water in communities across the province.
OMAFRA provided guidance and technical support to MOECC and Source Protection Committees during the development of Source Protection Plans (SPP), and encouraged policies based on Nutrient Management Act, 2002 (NMA) standards and appropriate agri-environmental management practices. The NMA protects the environment and is an important tool for managing risks to municipal drinking water.
OMAFRA worked with MOECC, Source Protection Committees, local municipalities, conservation authorities and farm organizations to ensure that SPP policies are effective and implementable.
What are Source Protection Plans?
Source Protection Plans (SPP) address activities - including agricultural practices - that could have an impact on municipal drinking water sources. Each SPP contains a number of policies to reduce existing, and future, threats to drinking water. SPPs are unique to the source protection area they cover, and recommend site-specific tactics to help manage these threats.
Why are Source Protection Plans necessary?
Protecting our local drinking water sources is part of Ontario's drinking water safety net.
The first step in ensuring safe drinking water is to protect the local source and supply. Watershed-based Source Protection Plans will provide extra protection, helping to ensure your water is safe to drink.
When will the Source Protection Plan be implemented in my area?
There are 19 Source Protection Committees across the province that submitted 22 Source Protection Plans to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) for approval. Implementation dates will vary for each area as the ministry must review the policies set out in each plan.
How will Source Protection Plans affect farmers?
Farmers may be affected by Source Protection Plans. Each plan contains different policies, so how farmers are affected depends on the source protection area their farming operation is in.
Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) staff will contact farmers in source protection areas who have a registered operation, an approved nutrient management strategy (NMS) or plan (NMP), or an approved non-agricultural source material (NASM) plan. By law, these documents must be reviewed and amended to be in compliance with the Source Protection Plan.
Do farmers need to implement the policies of a Source Protection Plan on their farm?
Farmers are required by law to comply with Source Protection Plans.
OMAFRA staff will contact farmers in source protection areas who have a registered operation, an approved NMS or NMP, or an approved NASM Plan. By law, these documents must be reviewed and amended as necessary to be in compliance with the Source Protection Plan.
Is funding available for farmers if they have to update their NASM Plan, NMS or NMP?
In some cases, farmers may need to update or resubmit their NASM Plan, NMS or NMP to OMAFRA to comply with the policies of a Source Protection Plan. OMAFRA does not provide funding specifically for farmers to update their NASM Plans, NMSs or NMPs to comply with Source Protection Plans.
Between 2007 and 2011, the Province provided $24.5 million under the Ontario Drinking Water Stewardship Programto help landowners take voluntary actions to reduce threats to local sources of municipal drinking water. To date, over 3,000 projects have been funded under this program.Moving forward, implementation of local Source Protection Plans is a shared responsibility of all program partners.
What is OMAFRA doing to help farmers affected by Source Protection Plans?
OMAFRA will deliver training on Source Protection Plans for certified nutrient management planners. The training details:
- how Source Protection Plans affect nutrient management on farms
- the role of OMAFRA, nutrient management planners and farmers in areas with Source Protection Plans
- key contact information
- where to find additional information on Source Protection Plans
The training will help nutrient management planners understand the implications of Source Protection Plans for farmers and farm operations. Planners will play a vital role in ensuring their clients' farm operations follow appropriate agri-environmental management practices to protect Ontario's drinking water.
What resources are available for farmers who are affected by a Source Protection Plan?
OMAFRA staff provided technical support and guidance to the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition's Farm Source Water Protection Framework. The framework is a tool to help farmers to work through the municipally-driven risk management process.
Many of OMAFRA's Best Management Practices guides will give farmers helpful information in meeting the requirements of their local Source Protection Plans. Visit our Best Management Practices web page for more information.
For more information about drinking water and protecting source water, visit MOECC's drinking water web page.
Read more about the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition's Farm Source Water Protection Framework.
Visit the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus website for information on Source Water Protection training for nutrient management planners.
For questions regarding the Clean Water Act and Source Water Protection
Questions about the Clean Water Act and Source Water Protection can be directed to MOECC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-212-5296.
For questions on a specific Source Protection Plan
Contact your local conservation authority or municipality, or visit the Conservation Ontario website for information on specific Source Protection Plans.
To find out if a farm is located in a source protection area
If you are uncertain if you are located in a source protection area, contact your local conservation authority or municipality, or visit the Conservation Ontario website.
For questions about what a farmer is required to do
Contact your local municipality or conservation authority for information on what you are required to do if your farm is affected by a Source Protection Plan.
For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300