Source Water Protection


General Enquiries
Environmental Services and Operations Dept.
40 Kitchener Street, Orillia, ON L3V 6Z9

Phone: 705-326-1502
Fax: 705-326-1339

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Why is there a need for Source Water Protection?

In 2000, the Town of Walkerton's groundwater was contaminated due to an abandoned well which had not been properly decommissioned. A local farmer had been spreading manure on his field several days before the contamination and a rain storm had washed water containing E. coli from the manure into the well. The well was connected to the towns' water source and several thousand people drank the contaminated water. Seven people within the town died from the contaminated water, and 2,300 people became ill. To this day, some residents still suffer from the impacts of the contaminated water.

Since the Walkerton contamination, the Province of Ontario has been strengthening regulations on how water is protected, treated, and distributed. Source protection is the frontline defense prior to entering the City's treatment and distribution system. The goal of source water protection is to reduce the potential for both ground and surface water contamination, improving the water we rely on for drinking and recreational purposes.  

What is Source Water Protection?

Source water protection is the first line of defence in a multi-barrier approach to ensure clean drinking water.

Throughout the multi-barrier approach the following safety net is applied:

By protecting our drinking water sources the amount of water treatment needed to provide safe drinking water to consumers can be minimized.

How is Source Water Protection Enforced? 

In 2006, the Clean Water Act was created, which outlines the requirements for developing and enforcing a Source Protection Plan.

The City of Orillia identified several potential significant threats to the City's water sources. The assessment reports can be accessed by following the two links provided:

Black Severn River Assessment Report              Severn Sound Assessment Report

The initial assessment provided a basis for investigation and establishment of the City's existing significant threats.

Note: Significant threats to our source water are deemed potential threats, not threats that are imminent or taking place within the City. For more information on the assessment reports please find the following link:

assessment report

On January 26, 2015, the South Georgian Bay Lake Simcoe Source Water Protection Plan was approved with an effective date of July 1, 2015.  The plan sets policies in which the City and Province must enforce to protect our drinking water.  The plan also identified existing threats within the City that will need to conform to both the Source Protection Plan and the Clean Water Act. This will include developing risk management plans and prohibiting existing or future activities and land uses within the City.

Source Water Protection Activities:

The City has been actively developing resources necessary to implement the source water protection processes. Several changes have been made within the City to reflect the Source Protection Plan. These include:

  • Implementing a Risk Management Office made up of provincially certified Risk Management Officials (RMO) and Inspectors (RMI)
  • Delineation of vulnerable area boundaries and scores
  • Verifying significant threats
  • Altering our business processes to include by-laws, development / site alteration screening processes, and establishing risk management plan and inspection templates
  • Developing education and awareness materials

These processes will help provide continual assessment of existing and future potential threats in order to protect the source water in Orillia. Ultimately this means increased protection of our source waters which will ensure the health and safety of our drinking water consumers and the surrounding environment.

How this may impact me?

The source protection plan is not anticipated to impact the average property owner within the City of Orillia. However all planning and building applications will be subject to additional screening measures if you're planning to engage in building development or land use application outside the existing parameters of the property. If this is the case, you will be required to complete screening applications and may also have certain measures or restrictions placed on your project. A fee associated with the time City Staff attribute to evaluation and plan development will also be charged to the applicant to recover costs associated with these activities. To find out if you reside in a source protection vulnerable areas please refer to the Source Protection Mapping Section.

How can I get involved in Source Protection?

Education and awareness can help with Source Protection. The City has created an Education and Outreach page for Source Protection related activities; there are also external resources that can provide further information on Source Protection.

Be an ambassador for source protection by being mindful of materials and activities stored or used on your property. Although not all activities have significant impacts to Source Protection, or are significant to drinking water, there are ecologically significant threats that an average property owner can be environmentally aware of.

Get involved! If you suspect an activity or use may be a significant threat to the drinking water source report it to a Risk Management Official or Risk Management Inspector. These staff will discuss the suspected threats with you and if necessary, investigate the activity. Threats may include improperly decommissioned or active wells, chemical or pathogen contaminants.

Aside from the threats discussed within the South Georgian Bay Lake Simcoe Source Protection Plan, there are other ways to reduce your impact on our source water. This includes water conservation and improving efficiency, reducing runoff associated with stormwater, reducing the potential for contamination and cleaning up contaminants before they enter stormwater systems. For more information please refer to the City of Orillia's Water Conservation and Stormwater Pages.

Who can I consult with at the City for Source Protection Activities?

If you'd like to know more about source water protection or report a suspected threat activity please contact our lead Risk Management Official (RMO/RMI):

Kyle Mitchell (RMO/RMI)

Manager of Source Protection and Operations

Environmental Services and Operations Department



Kelly Smith (RMO/RMI)

Chief Building Inspector

Development Services Department


Brent Burgin (RMO/RMI)

Superintendent of Pollution Control

Environmental Services and Operations Department


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