Things to know about Source Water Protection

Elite Agri Solutions strives to provide background information on topics which are hard to research. In cases where no reputable print resources were available for us to reference, we interviewed industry experts, so it is inevitable that the contents of this document will contain inaccuracies and bias. Use this as a resource to help you ask the right questions, not as a source of definitive answers. Elite Agri Solutions and its employee will not be responsible for the consequences of any decision made based on this guide. Where text or data has been copied directly, the sources have been noted, otherwise it can be assumed that all the information in this guide has only been curated by Elite Agri Solutions and is not our original property.

(Information in this document was written by a Risk Management Officer who is very experienced with the agricultural implications of Source Water Protection.)

 

It’s all about the maps!

Google “Ontario Source Protection” and go to the Source Protection Information Atlas to see all the Source Water Protection mapping for Ontario.

Source Water applies ONLY to Municipal well supplies.

The province of Ontario is divided into 19 Source Protection Regions based on watersheds – Conservation Authorities combined.

Conservation authorities currently administer with funding from Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks the future of responsibilities are unclear with the new government. Municipalities oversee implementing local Source Protection Plans and relevant policies. Some Conservation Authorities do this on behalf of municipalities.

Areas of interest are:

  • Wellhead Protection Areas (WHPA)
  • Intake Protection Zones (IPZ for lake or river)
  • Issue Contributing Areas (Nitrate/Chloride/Chemical)
  • GUDI – Groundwater Under the Direct Influence of surface water
  • Highly Vulnerable Aquifers (HVA)

 

WHPA’s: A, B, C and D – 100m zone, 2, 5- or 25-year time-of-travel for water to reach the well

IPZ – 1 – 100m zone around intake, 2 – 2-hour time-of-travel, 3 – Industry/Agriculture that could impact intake outside of zone 1 and 2

Issue Contributing Areas – Usually fractured limestone or sand with little overburden

GUDI – Floods, rain events can impact municipal well because located near river or stream

HVA – Policy restrictions are only in place if they score high because of less overburden. The entire province is mapped for this but in some areas, there won’t be restrictions.

There are 22 threats prescribed by the province as threats to drinking water. Some major categories are:

  • Manure
  • Pesticide
  • Fertilizer
  • Fuel
  • Chemicals
  • Salt
  • Waste
  • Oil transmission lines

Source Protection Plans can use Education and Outreach, Risk Management Plans or Prohibition to ensure a contaminant does not become a threat to drinking water.

Each Source Protection Region has their own Source Protection Plan and associated policies using any of the above tools.

Rule of thumb – the closer to the well, and the higher the vulnerability score, the more policies will apply.

Farms with Nutrient Management Strategies where a field within a WHPA, IPZ or ICA is included in the farm unit may use their approved Nutrient Management Strategy as a prescribed instrument that adheres to policy.  The onus is on the Nutrient Management Consultant to ensure that the Strategy and Nutrient Management plans conform to the local Source Protection Plans.  The consultant and farmer must provide a Statement of Conformity to be allowed an exemption.

If the field is a vulnerable area of the municipal water supply is not part of the declared farm unit, then the farmer/consultant must work with the local Risk Management Official to create a Risk Management Plan for the operation.

If applying for a zoning change or building permit, property owners in a vulnerable area will need to get a Section 59, Restricted Land Use notice from the Risk Management Official to include as part of the completed package.  When the property owner fills out the Restricted Land Use application, they will need to indicate what the planned activities on the farm are. This is a screening mechanism to ensure that plans don’t progress if they are prohibited by the local Source Protection Plan.

Final words of advice:

Check the provincial map.  If your property is in vulnerable area, call the local Source Water Protection Office and find out what policies may apply and how they may affect you and your plans!