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Source Water Protection

The City is working on implementing the Source Protection Plan policies to meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act. This page contains information for residents and business owners, including frequently asked questions.

The Source Protection Plan for the South Georgian Bay Lake Simcoe Source Protection Region, which includes the City's drinking water sources, received approval by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. The Plan came into effect on July 1, 2015.

The Plan introduced a variety of policies to keep contaminants out of municipal drinking water sources. The Clean Water Act is one of the Province’s responses to the Walkerton water contamination tragedy and is part of Ontario’s strategy to safeguard drinking water from source to tap.

Municipalities were already responsible for the delivery of municipal drinking water and land use planning; the source protection process builds on this framework. Source protection introduces various tools to manage land uses and gives municipalities the responsibility and authority to regulate activities that may pose a risk of contaminating drinking water sources (drinking water threats) on a site-specific basis. Source Protection Plan policies generally apply to activities located within surface water Intake Protection Zones or Wellhead Protection Areas (also known as vulnerable areas).

There is one mixed drinking water system in Barrie, consisting of one surface water intake and a groundwater system. Most of the system is located within the Lake Simcoe Source Protection Area; four wells are located in the Nottawasaga Valley Source Protection Area.

An Assessment Report (a series of technical studies that outline vulnerable areas on maps and provide a total count of potential threats to the drinking water system) has been completed for the City (Chapter 8 & Chapter 9). It describes the local watershed, assesses available water supply, and provides the technical information needed for the development of the Source Protection Plan. The Explanatory Document explains in detail how the policies in the Source Protection Plan were developed.

Information for Residents & Businesses

We all have roles and responsibilities to protect our environment and help preserve the quality of our drinking water. If your home or business is within a vulnerable area, there may be policies in the Source Protection Plan that apply to you. Regardless of which policies apply to you, there are steps you can take:

Steps to Help Protect Your Drinking Water Source
Hazardous Product Awareness

Be aware of hazardous products and do your part to make sure that they do not enter the environment.

Winter Salt Use

Avoid using salt excessively. It is important to ensure safe conditions on your property, but excessive amounts of salt can harm drinking water sources. Salt is generally ineffective for melting ice at very cold temperatures; if the temperature is below -12°C, consider using kitty litter or sand for traction instead. Frequent shoveling can help minimize ice buildup and reduce the need for salt.

Heating Oil Tank Maintenance

If you use heating oil in your home or business, make sure that your tank is in good condition and that there are no signs of leaks.

Related link: Fact Sheet: Home Heating Oil Storage

Septic Systems Maintenance

If applicable to your home/business, ensure your septic system is functioning properly.

Related links:
Fact Sheet: Septic Systems
Septic Smart! Understanding Your Home’s Septic System

Lawn Care

If you use fertilizers for your lawn or garden, do not apply more than is needed. Avoid applying fertilizer or manure near water sources. Also, clean up your pet’s waste; the nutrients and pathogens in it can harm drinking water sources.

Private Wells

Unused or poorly maintained wells can be hazardous and also create transport pathways for contaminants to reach groundwater sources. If you own a well, you are responsible for maintaining it and having it tested regularly. If you have an unused well on your property, you are responsible for properly abandoning (plugging and sealing) it. 

Funding for Decommissioning Private Wells

You may be eligible to receive funding to decommission your unused well through the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority's Landowner Environmental Assistance Program. Contact:

Katleya Young-Chin, Stewardship Technician
Phone: 905-895-1281 Ext. 150

Septic Systems

To meet the requirements of the Building Code Act, the City's Building Services staff conduct inspections of septic systems in certain areas. If your septic system is not functioning properly, you may be required to take action to rectify the situation. Notification letters will be sent to addresses where septic system inspections are required. For more information about this program, please contact Building Services at 705-739-4212 or

Funding for Septic System Improvements
You may be eligible to receive funding for eligible projects through stewardship and incentive programs:

Landowner Environmental Assistance Program (LSRCA)

Through the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority's Landowner Environmental Assistance Program, you may be eligible for funding to repair, upgrade, or replace your septic system if it's faulty, malfunctioning, or older than 20 years. The amount of funding available for each property is limited to 50% of the project cost up to $2,500 for conventional systems or $6,500 for tertiary treatment systems.

Katleya Young-Chin, Stewardship Technician
905-895-1281 Ext. 150

The Healthy Waters Grant Incentive Program (NVCA)

The Healthy Waters Grant Incentive Program (from the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority) offers a grant of 30% of the project cost up to $2,000 to upgrade septic systems within 30m of a natural stream or lake to an advanced treatment system (e.g. Waterloo Biofilter, Ecoflow, etc.).

Shannon Stephens, Healthy Waters Program Coordinator
705-424-1479 Ext. 239

Lake Simcoe & South-eastern Georgian Bay Community Stewardship Program

Through The Lake Simcoe & South-eastern Georgian Bay Community Stewardship Program, education and support is available for those living within the eligible area. Funding is available for eligible septic system replacements of 50% of project cost up to $2,500 for standard systems or $6,000 for advanced systems.


John Osmok, Program Coordinator
705-725-7523, Cell: 705-330-5446

Carrie McIntyre, Extension Specialist
705-725-7523, Cell: 705-826-0439

Businesses-Specific Information

Business and industry have an important role and a responsibility to protect the water sources that help keep our economy and community strong. It is important that the City and businesses work together to help ensure a safe and sustainable municipal drinking water source. As part of the City's work to implement the Source Protection Plan, inspections will be conducted at businesses within vulnerable areas.

Some of the most common drinking water threats associated with businesses involve the handling and storage of hazardous chemicals. The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has identified specific chemicals that need to be managed under the Clean Water Act. Because the chemical ingredients in different products can vary, it can be difficult to tell if a product is one that would result in a drinking water threat.

Related links:
Guide: Reviewing Product Material Safety Data Sheets
Common Chemical Products: Ingredients and Properties
Please note: These resources are for reference purposes only and are to be used at your own discretion. This information could become outdated quickly; users should still consult a current MSDS for a specific product. If you would like additional help determining if a specific product would result in a drinking water threat, contact Scott Drewette, Risk Management Official, at 705-739-4220 x4796 or

Low Impact Develop (LID) is a stormwater management strategy that helps to mitigate the impacts of runoff and stormwater pollution by managing runoff as close to its source as possible. LID comprises site design strategies that help to minimize runoff by mimicking the natural hydrology and pre-development conditions to preserve the natural environment. The Infiltration Low Impact Development Screening Process document provides a decision making framework to identify when it is appropriate to consider the installation of an infiltration LID within the City of Barrie. This framework takes into consideration the Source Water Protection vulnerable areas, as well as the contamination risks associated with road salt product application and, chemical spills.

Frequently Asked Questions
What is the source of our drinking water?

Our drinking water comes from two major sources: surface water is taken from Kempenfelt Bay and treated at the Surface Water Treatment Plant and groundwater is taken from 14 wells throughout Barrie.

The north and central parts of Barrie are primarily served by groundwater sources. The south end of Barrie is primarily served by the Surface Water Treatment Plant.

Is our drinking water safe now?

Yes, we currently employ several measures to prevent our water from becoming contaminated to ensure it is safe and clean from the source to our taps.

We currently protect sources of water by monitoring and managing our lakes, rivers and streams, by using up to date water treatment systems, by ensuring that pipes, watermains and storage towers are in good repair, by testing it regularly, and by the ongoing training of water managers and operators.

Why is Drinking Water Source Protection Important?

Source protection safeguards public health by protecting drinking water supplies. Source protection is a preventative approach and is a more cost effective means of protecting drinking water than water treatment alone. Once water sources are contaminated, treatment can become much more expensive or even impossible.

What is a Source Protection Plan?

A Source Protection Plan is a collaborative, locally-driven, science-based plan to protect our current and future municipal drinking water supply from threats of contamination or overuse. The Source Protection Plan was developed by a committee that includes public sector, private sector, community, and First Nations representatives. It is important to protect Barrie’s water quality and quantity so that we have clean and safe drinking water for today and tomorrow.

Why does that City need to implement a Source Protection Plan?

The Clean Water Act requires municipalities to implement Source Protection Plans to protect existing and future municipal drinking-water supplies. The Clean Water Act was enacted in 2006 in response to the Walkerton tragedy to protect Ontario’s existing and future municipal drinking water sources as a part of an overall commitment to safeguard human health and the environment.

Who is responsible for implementing and enforcing the Source Protection Plan?
  • Provincial Ministries, Conservation Authorities, and Municipalities all have different responsibilities for implementing Source Protection Plans.
  • Municipalities that have the primary responsibility to implement and enforce policies locally to manage drinking water threats and to implement planning and restricted land use policies.
  • The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is responsible for implementing policies related to activities that require provincial approvals.
  • Source Protection Committees direct the development of the Source Protection Plans for each region.
  • Conservation authorities provide support and technical expertise to municipalities.
What are drinking water threats?
  • Chemical storage
  • Spreading of sewage treatment sludge
  • Storage and spreading of road salt
  • Animal feedlots
  • Use and spilling of fertilizers and pesticides
  • Accidental spills and hazardous materials
  • Septic systems
  • Underground storage tanks
  • Underground pipelines or sewers
  • Landfills
  • Private or abandoned wells
How will the Source Protection Plan address these threats?

The goal of the Source Protection Plan is to manage or eliminate existing activities that are, or could become, significant threats to drinking water sources. In most circumstances, property owners will be able to manage significant threats to reduce the risk and allow the activity to continue. The Clean Water Act provides several tools to accomplish the goal. In some cases a combination of tools will work best.

How will Source Protection change the processes at the City?

Departments are determining the most effective way to implement the program. A framework will be established to guide how the source protection policies will apply. Steps will be taken to provide a streamlined review process for the development community. If you have concerns with the location of a property, we recommend scheduling a meeting with the Risk Management Official to discuss any additional source protection considerations.

What is a Wellhead Protection Area?

A wellhead is simply the physical structure of the well above ground. A wellhead protection area is the area around the wellhead where land use activities have the potential to affect the quality of water that flows into the well. These are areas of high vulnerability where the greatest care must be taken in the storage, use and handling of materials that could, if mishandled or spilled, pollute or contaminate a municipal well.

What is an Intake Protection Zone?

An intake protection zone is the area around a surface water intake that will ensure the protection of a municipal drinking water system. It is the vulnerable area where contaminants could pose a significant threat to the source water. In most cases, the intake protection zone includes the water and the land that surrounds the intake, and takes into account the impacts of land uses and water activities.

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