Our drinking water comes from lakes, rivers and bays or underground sources. Human activities can impact those water sources.
The terrible events in Walkerton in May, 2000 demonstrated just how vulnerable our drinking water can be when it is not properly managed and protected. Seven people died and thousands became ill from drinking contaminated water when E. coli bacteria made its way into the municipality’s water system.
As a result of the tragedy in Walkerton a provincial inquiry was held, led by Justice Dennis O'Connor. Justice O’Connor’s Walkerton Report called for many changes to how we manage drinking water in Ontario. A number of the recommendations emphasized the need for the protection of drinking water sources.
Justice O'Connor identified that drinking water is best protected through an approach that uses multiple barriers to prevent contamination from affecting our drinking water. This is called the 'multi-barrier approach'. Actions to prevent contamination include water treatment and distribution systems, training of water managers and water testing; but the first barrier is to protect our drinking water right at its source.
The province passed the Clean Water Act in 2006 calling for each region in Ontario to produce a local, science–based plan to protect sources of municipal drinking water.
Source Protection Process in the Quinte Region