North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority

15 Janey Avenue
North Bay, Ontario
P1C 1N1

Phone: (705) 474-5420
Fax: (705) 474-9793

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Summary of Ontario's Water Related Legislation
Drinking Water Source Protection

The Clean Water Act is just one piece of legislation governing water quantity and quality in Ontario. There are several more statues that pertain to water and water related activities. In order to clarify any confusion surrounding the scope of the Clean Water Act in the North Bay-Mattawa region, Ontario’s current water related legislation is briefly summarized below.

Environmental Protection Act
Ministry of the Environment
The Environmental Protection Act is the primary pollution control legislation in Ontario and can be used interchangeably with the Water Resources Act. The legislation prohibits discharge of any contaminants in to the environment that cause or are likely to cause adverse effects. Amounts of approved contaminants must not exceed limits prescribed by the regulations. The Act also requires that spills of pollutants are reported and cleaned up promptly. The Environmental Protection Act also has the authority to establish liability on the party at fault. One section of the Act imposes a duty on corporate officers and directors to take all reasonable care to prevent the corporation from causing or permitting unlawful discharges of contaminants into the natural environment.

Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act
Ministry of Natural Resources
The Lakes and Rivers Act was introduced in 1990 to protect the province’s surface water resources. The Act regulates the public and private use of Ontario’s lakes and rivers, including the construction, repair and use of dams. The Act provides for the requirement of Water Management plans from waterpower facilities to ensure environmental, social and economic concerns are addressed. The Act also prohibits the deposit of refuse, matter or substances into lakes and rivers that may impair water quality and/or quantity.

Nutrient Management Act
Ministry of Environment & Ministry of Agriculture & Food
As part of Ontario's Clean Water Strategy, the Nutrient Management Act, 2002 was designed to reduce the potential for water and environmental contamination from some agricultural practices. The Act establishes the framework for best practices regarding nutrient management (particularly manure). The Nutrient Management Act also provides standards for nutrient storage and how nutrients are applied to farmland, in order to reduce the likelihood of ground or surface water contamination.

Ontario Water Resources Act
Ministry of the Environment
The Ontario Water Resources Act focuses on both groundwater and surface water throughout the province. The Water Resources Act regulates sewage disposal and “sewage works” and prohibits the discharge of polluting materials that may impair water quality. Permits to take more than 50,000 liters of water per day from ground or surface water sources are also regulated under the Water Resources Act. The Water Resources Act regulates well construction, operation and abandonment in addition to the approval, construction and operation of “water works”.

Public Lands Act
Ministry of Natural Resources
The Public Lands Act outlines the use, management, sale and disposition of public lands and forests. The Act guides Ontario’s public land use planning and development, regulating public and private roads on public lands. The Public Lands Act also empowers the province to construct and operate dams on waterways throughout the province.

Safe Drinking Water Act
Ministry of the Environment
Like the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act was initiated by Justice O’Connor’s inquiry into the Walkerton tragedy in 2000. As a result of the Act, all municipal drinking water systems must obtain an approval from the Director of the Ministry of the Environment in order to operate, and operators must be trained and certified to provincial standards. The Act also provides a framework for testing with legally-binding standards for contaminants in drinking water and the mandatory use of licensed and accredited laboratories for drinking water testing.

Sustainable Water and Sewage Systems Act, 2002
Ministry of the Environment
The Sustainable Water and Sewage Systems Act passed third reading in 2002 and is still awaiting Royal Assent. The Act outlines the framework for implementing full cost accounting to ensure long term sustainability of municipal water supplies. The Act requires municipalities to assess the costs of water and to develop plans to charge appropriate rates and generate sufficient revenue to finance capital and operating costs of sewer and water systems.

In addition, there are two pieces of legislation in Ontario that govern the processes by which water-related projects are reviewed and approved. These are:

Environmental Assessment Act
Ministry of the Environment
Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act generally requires an environmental assessment of any major public or designated private undertaking in order to determine the ecological, cultural, economic and social impact of the project. The Act also establishes a “Class Environmental Assessment” process for planning certain municipal projects. Municipal projects that may be affected include municipal road, water, and sewage and storm water projects. For water projects, the purpose of the municipal class environmental assessment is to ensure that projects will be "undertaken to address problems affecting the operation and efficiency of existing water systems, to accommodate future growth of communities, or to address water source contamination problems".

Environmental Bill of Rights
Ministry of the Environment
The Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) led to the establishment of an Environmental Registry to notify the public of important environmental decisions and to solicit public comment. The EBR also established an independent Environmental Commissioner who oversees the province’s environmental practices and consideration. Through the EBR, the public has the right to request reviews of inadequate laws, regulations, policies or instruments as well as to comment on proposed legislation and regulations.