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Source Water Protection

Safe drinking water starts with you! The City of Barrie provides safe and reliable drinking water to its community. Whether you are a developer, business owner or homeowner you can do your part to help protect this great resource.

button: Information for Homeowners and Residents   button: Information for Business Owners or Operators  button: Information for Developers  button: FAQs

Source Water Protection 101

What is Source Water?

Source water is the untreated water from streams, lakes, rivers or underground aquifers that is used to supply people with drinking water. In Barrie, a mix of surface water, from Kempenfelt Bay, and groundwater make up the drinking water supply.

What is Source Water Protection?

Source Water Protection is about protecting our sources of drinking water from overuse and contamination. It’s one component of Ontario’s multi-barrier approach to ensure clean and safe drinking water from source to tap. The best way to ensure we have safe drinking water now, and in the future, is to protect it at its source.

Why do we Protect Source Water?

In May 2000 the water supply of the small town of Walkerton, Ontario became contaminated with E. coli bacteria. Seven residents died and thousands became ill dubbing this tragedy the worst water related outbreak in Canada.

In response to the Walkerton water contamination tragedy, the Province of Ontario developed the Clean Water Act with a goal of safeguarding municipal drinking water from source to tap. Source Water Protection is now at the forefront of municipal planning.

Which areas do we protect? 

Intake Protection Zone:
An Intake Protection Zone (IPZ) is the area that surrounds the surface water intake pipe. The IPZ includes the water and the land that surrounds the intake, and takes into account how fast water could reach the intake pipe.

diagram: intake protection zone

Wellhead Protection Areas:
A Wellhead Protection Area (WHPA) is the area of land surrounding a municipal well, which contributes water to the well.  Within the WHPA, protective measures are implemented to safeguard the groundwater supply from sources of contamination.

diagram: Wellhead Protection Areas

What do we protect these areas from?

Potential threats to drinking water sources include:

  • Handling, storage and application of pesticides, fertilizers and animal waste
  • Handling and storage of hazardous chemicals such as fuel and solvents
  • Road salt used for de-icing roads, walkways and parking areas
  • Septic systems and sewage works
    Waste disposal sites
How do we protect them?

Our local Source Protection Plan is a science-based plan to protect our municipal drinking water supply from threats of contamination and overuse. Policies in the Source Protection Plan require government, businesses, developers and residents to take action to make sure drinking water sources are protected from potential threats.

Information for Homeowners & Residents

As a homeowner, there are actions you can take each day to help keep your drinking water clean.

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.

  • Select non-toxic products whenever possible
  • Use and store hazardous products carefully
  • Never pour hazardous chemicals down the drain. Dispose of them at the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Depot.
  • If any chemicals are spilled, clean-up the spill right away!

Visit www.makethedrop.ca to find other nearby drop off sites for certain hazardous wastes. Visit www.healthsteward.ca to find other nearby drop off sites for medications and sharps (needles).

For more information please refer to the Chemicals Fact Sheet.

Winter Salt Use

Road salts can harm drinking water sources. Throughout the winter remember:

  • Always shovel before applying salt.
  • Avoid using salt excessively.
  • Salt is generally ineffective for melting ice at very cold temperatures; if the temperature is below -10°C, consider using kitty litter or sand for traction instead.
  • Be aware of drainage on your property. Improperly placed downspouts or snow piles can cause meltwater to drain across your driveway and cause icy conditions.

Related Links: Winter Safety; Curb The Salt

Heating Oil Tank Maintenance

If you use heating oil in your home, make sure that your tank is in good condition and that there are no signs of leaks. Watch this video for the best solution for safe oil storage.

For more information please refer to the Handling Fuels Safely Fact Sheet.

Septic Systems Maintenance

If you have a septic system, ensure it is functioning properly. Poorly maintained, improperly installed or overused septic systems can contaminate groundwater if untreated sewage leaks out of the pipes and tanks.

For more information please refer to the Septic Systems Fact Sheet.

Yard Care

Do you use fertilizers in your lawn or garden? If so:

  • Use them sparingly.
  • Do not apply more than is needed. Read the label for recommended application rates.
  • Avoid applying fertilizer or manure near water sources.

Remember, what’s great for your lawn is not always great for our water.

Car Care 

Is your car looking a little dirty? Remember driveways are not the best place for washing cars. The soaps and detergents can make their way into the ground or the lake, our sources of drinking water!

 Instead, take your car to a car wash. Car washes are required to treat their wastewater before releasing it into the sewer.

 If you're still determined to wash your car at home, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to lessen the environmental impact:

  • Choose non-toxic, biodegradable soap that is free of phosphates, fragrance, chlorine and petroleum-based ingredients. 
  • Avoid using acid-based wheel cleaners or hose-off engine degreasers.
  • Wash your car on the lawn or over an unpaved surface if possible, so the rinse water can be filtered before reaching a storm drain or waterway.
Private Wells

 Unused or poorly maintained wells can be transport pathways for contaminants to reach groundwater sources. If you own a well, you are responsible for maintaining it and having it tested regularly. Did you know that Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has a drinking water sampling program for those with private wells to help you know if your drinking water is safe?

If you have an unused well on your property, you are also legally responsible for properly abandoning (plugging and sealing) it. These actions protect you and your neighbours’ drinking water sources.

Information for Business Owners or Operators

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.

Applying for a Building Permit

If your business is located within a Well Head Protection Area where policies apply, you will be required to complete a Section 59 Screening Form to have your application fully processed. Our Building department will let you know if this is the case when you first apply for your permit.

The Risk Management Official will review your screening form to determine if any Source Protection Plan policies apply to activities at your business. If any policies apply, we will contact you to make sure any source water protection concerns are addressed. Once all policy requirements are met, a Section 59 Notice will be issued to you to allow your building permit application to proceed.

Risk Management Plans

Businesses in close proximity to municipal drinking water supplies may be required to work with the City to develop a Risk Management Plan. A Risk Management Plan is a legally binding document that outlines the protective measures that your business needs to take to ensure that drinking water sources are protected. City staff are reaching out to businesses directly to initiate the Risk Management Planning process.

The most common activities in Barrie that will require Risk Management Plans are those related to industrial facilities or winter maintenance activities. Industrial activities include those that may involve the handling and storage of hazardous or liquid wastes, fuels, and certain types of industrial chemicals such as solvents. Winter maintenance activities include the storage and application of road salt as well as the storage of snow.

The two samples below show examples of typical Risk Management Plans and the kind of information that may be included:

Source Water Protection Logo (for businesses)Have you seen this logo around Barrie? Businesses displaying this logo have been working with City staff to make sure their operation is as protective of our drinking water as possible. They are working hard to make sure our water is protected.

Handling of Hazardous Chemicals

Even if you're not in a Vulnerable Area, your business can help protect drinking water sources and the environment. If you have hazardous chemicals on site store, handle and dispose of them properly. Please consider:

Posting spill response procedures
This is a great way to show your customers that you take environmental stewardship seriously, and allows you and your staff to respond quickly in the unlikely event of a spill.

Make sure you have spill response materials on site
This can include the various complete spill kits that are commercially available, or a simple bucket and scoop with some granular absorbent to soak up spills; choose what will work best for the conditions at your business.

Have secondary containment
If you have any large containers of chemicals, consider secondary

Considerations Throughout the Winter

Remember when the snow arrives to:

Shovel first
Always shovel before applying salt and avoid using salt excessively.

Use sand in cold temperatures
Salt is generally ineffective for melting ice at very cold temperatures; if the temperature is below -10°C, consider using kitty litter or sand for traction instead.

Be aware of drainage problems
Be aware of drainage on the property. Improperly placed downspouts or snow piles can cause meltwater to drain across walkways and parking lots and cause icy conditions.

Get Smart About Salt
Consider hiring a Smart About Salt™ certified contractor. They have been trained on how to use road salt efficiently while considering impacts to the environment. Or, if you take care of winter maintenance in-house, consider getting trained yourself. Smart About Salt™ offers online and in-person training options for facility managers. You can even get your facility certified as a Smart About Salt™ Certified Site.

Keep good records
Keep good records of your winter maintenance activities and policies. This can help reduce liability and keep insurance costs down.

Store salt indoors
Prevent road salt from being exposed to the elements; store it indoors or in a lidded container. Road salt exposed to rain, snow or meltwater will dissolve and get into our groundwater supply, streams and Lake Simcoe, and wasted salt means wasted money too!

Information for Developers

Developers have an important role and a responsibility to protect the water sources that help keep our community growing. It is important that the City and developers work together to help ensure a safe and sustainable municipal drinking water source.

Submitting a Development Application

All pre-consultation and development applications will be reviewed for Source Water Protection considerations. If any policies from the Source Protection Plan apply you will be notified through the development review process. In some cases a Risk Management Plan will be required for the proposed activities on the property.

If your development is located within a Well Head Protection Area where policies apply, once you apply for your building permit you will be required to complete a Section 59 screening form to have your application fully processed. Our Building Department will let you know if this is the case when you first apply for your permit.

The Risk Management Official will review your screening form to determine if any Source Protection Plan policies will apply to activities at your development. If any policies apply, we will contact you to make sure any source water protection concerns are addressed. Once all policy requirements are met, a Section 59 Notice will be issued to you to allow your building permit application to proceed.

Parking Lot Design to Reduce Salt Use

The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority has developed a manual called Parking Lot Design Guidelines to Promote Salt Reduction. The guide offers recommendations on how to reduce salt use on commercial and institutional properties through design features.

Low Impact Development

Low Impact Development (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 where it is appropriate to infiltrate stormwater from paved surfaces 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 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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