An Act to restore public confidence in the quality of drinking water in Ontario
The people of Ontario have the right to clean and safe drinking water. Clean, safe drinking water is a basic human entitlement and essential for the protection of public health.
To ensure that the people of Ontario have safe drinking water, drinking water standards should be reviewed and revised frequently, information about drinking water quality should be freely available, drinking water issues should be dealt with by the provincial and municipal levels of government working in partnership, and the process for making decisions about drinking water issues should be transparent and accountable.
Therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:
1. (1)The purposes of this Act are,
(a)to recognize that people who use public water systems in Ontario have a right to receive clean and safe drinking water from them;
(b)to restore public confidence in the quality of drinking water throughout Ontario; and
(c)to protect and enhance the quality of drinking water in Ontario.
(2)In order to fulfil the purposes set out in subsection (1), this Act provides,
(a)means for reviewing decisions about drinking water quality made by the Government of Ontario and holding it accountable for those decisions; and
(b)increased access to the courts for the protection of drinking water quality.
2. In this Act,
``contaminant" means a biological, chemical, physical or radiological agent or combination of them that is prescribed as a contaminant; (``contaminant")
``certificate of approval" means an approval issued under section 52 of the Ontario Water Resources Act\; (``certificat d'approbation")
``drinking water" means water that may be used for human consumption; (``eau potable")
``Minister" means the Minister of the Environment, and ``Ministry" has a corresponding meaning; (``ministre", ``ministre")
``person" includes a municipality; (``personne")
``prescribed" means prescribed by the regulations; (``prescrit")
``private water system" means a water system that supplies water only for five or fewer private residences; (``rseau priv d'adduction d'eau")
``public water supplier" means a person who operates a public water system; (``fournisseur d'eau public")
``public water system" means a water system other than a private water system; (``rseau public d'adduction d'eau")
``registry" means the water quality registry established under section 6; (``registre")
``regulations" means the regulations made under this Act; (``rglements")
``substance" means anything that is prescribed as a substance; (``substance")
``user", when used in connection with a public water system, means a person who regularly obtains water from the system; (``usager")
``water system" means a system for the collection, supply and distribution of drinking water. (``rseau d'adduction d'eau")
Duties of public water suppliers
3. (1)Every public water supplier shall,
(a)have water tests conducted in accordance with subsection 4 (1), the regulations and the supplier's certificate of approval, to establish contaminant and substance levels and compliance with prescribed standards;
(b)promptly report to the Ministry the results of all tests conducted under clause (a);
(c)keep full records of all tests conducted under clause (a) and make them available to any person on request; and
(d)provide summaries of the results of all tests conducted under clause (a) to users with their water bills.
(2)Subsection (3) applies whenever,
(a)a test conducted under clause (1) (a) reveals that maximum permitted contaminant levels or maximum permitted substance levels are exceeded or that prescribed standards are not adhered to;
(b)a test to be conducted under clause (1) (a) is delayed or cannot be performed for any reason;
(c)equipment for conducting a test under clause (1) (a) or for purifying drinking water is malfunctioning.
(3)If a situation described in clause (2) (a), (b) or (c) exists, the public water supplier shall,
(a)immediately notify the medical officer of health and the Ministry of the results of the test;
(b)ensure that notice is given to all users in accordance with the regulations;
(c)take immediate steps to correct the problem; and
(d)make an alternative supply of safe drinking water available to all users until the problem has been corrected.
When duty applies
(4)The duty imposed by subsection (3) applies as soon as the public water supplier knows or ought to know of the situation.
Water testing laboratories
4. (1)All tests under clause 3 (1) (a) shall be conducted by a water testing laboratory that is accredited by the Ministry in accordance with the regulations.
Notice to Ministry
(2)Every public water supplier shall,
(a)promptly advise the Ministry of which laboratory is conducting the public water supplier's tests under clause 3 (1) (a); and
(b)if a different laboratory is used, advise the Ministry immediately.
Reporting test results
5. (1)Every water testing laboratory shall promptly report the results of all tests conducted under clause 3 (1) (a) to the Ministry and to the public water supplier.
Reporting unsafe water tests
(2)If a test conducted under clause 3 (1) (a) reveals that the maximum permitted contaminant levels or maximum permitted substance levels are exceeded or that prescribed standards are not adhered to, the laboratory shall immediately notify the public water supplier, the medical officer of health and the Ministry of the results of the test.
When duty applies
(3)The duty imposed by subsection (2) applies as soon as the laboratory knows or ought to know of the test results.
Water quality registry
6. (1)The Ministry shall establish and operate a water quality registry in accordance with this section and the regulations.
(2)The registry shall be made available to any person in electronic form, without charge.
(3)The purpose of the registry is to make information about the quality of water from public water systems available to the public.
(4)The registry shall contain the following information:
1.The results of all tests conducted under clause 3 (1) (a).
2.Copies of all certificates of approval issued to public water suppliers.
3.A list of all laboratories accredited under the regulations.
4.Details of all notices to users given under clause 3 (3) (b).
(5)The registry may contain any other information that in the Ministry's opinion is relevant to water quality.
(6)Some examples of information that may be included under subsection (5) are:
1.Information about convictions for offences under this Act and the sentences imposed.
2.Information about proceedings under sections 9 and 10.
Offence: supplying unsafe water
7. (1)No public water supplier shall cause or permit to be supplied to users water that,
(a)exceeds the maximum permitted level for any contaminant or substance; or
(b)contravenes a prescribed standard.
Offence: polluting water system
(2)No person shall deposit in, add to, emit or discharge into a public water system or a private water system any thing so as to cause the water to,
(a)exceed the maximum permitted level for a contaminant or substance; or
(b)contravene a prescribed standard.
(3)Any person who contravenes subsection (1) or (2) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine not exceeding $1,000,000 for each day on which the offence occurs or continues.
(4)Any person who fails to comply with clause 3 (1) (a), (b), (c) or (d) or subsection 3 (3), 5 (1) or 5 (2) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine not exceeding $1,000,000 for each day on which the offence occurs or continues.
Restraining order on conviction
(5)The court that convicts a person of an offence under this Act may, on its own initiative or on the prosecutor's application, make an order restraining the continuation or repetition of the offence.
8. (1)The Superior Court of Justice may, on the Minister's application, order any person to cease contravening this Act, the regulations or a certificate of approval.
In addition to other remedies
(2)Subsection (1) is in addition to any other remedy or penalty provided by law.
Action for damages
9.A person who suffers damage as a result of a contravention of subsection 7 (1) or (2) or a failure to comply with clause 3 (1) (a), (b), (c) or (d) or subsection 3 (3), 5 (1) or 5 (2) may bring an action against the person who committed the contravention or failed to comply, as the case may be, to recover damages.
Judicial review, standing
10.Any person may apply for judicial review of the Minister's exercise or non-exercise of a power conferred or performance or non-performance of a duty imposed by this Act, whether the person is directly affected or has suffered special damages or not.
Water Advisory Council
11.(1)A body to be known as the Water Advisory Council in English and as Conseil consultatif de l'eau in French is hereby established.
(2)The Council shall consist of not fewer than 10 and not more than 15 members, chosen for competence and knowledge in matters relating to drinking water quality and appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
(3)A member holds office for a term of not more than three years and may be reappointed.
Chair and vice-chair
(4)The Lieutenant Governor in Council may appoint one of the members as chair of the Council and another as vice-chair.
Time for first appointments
(5)At least 10 members shall be appointed to the Council within 90 days after this Act comes into force.
Duties of Council
12.The Water Advisory Council has the following duties:
1.To advise the Minister on the results of current research related to,
i.drinking water quality,
ii.prescribed standards, and
iii.contaminants and substances and their effects.
2.To consider any matter affecting drinking water quality that the Minister refers to the Council or that the Council decides to consider on its own initiative, and to advise the Minister on the matter.
13.The Minister shall cause research to be conducted on,
(a)the causes, diagnosis, treatment, control and prevention of health effects associated with contaminants and substances and with failure to adhere to prescribed standards;
(b)the quality, quantity and availability of water from private water systems;
(c)the sources of surface and ground water contamination;
(d)methods of purifying drinking water; and
(e)methods of conserving water.
Testing of private water system
14.The Minister shall, at the request of any user of a private water system, cause the water to be tested in accordance with subsection 4 (1) and the regulations to establish contaminant and substance levels and compliance with prescribed standards.
15.(1)The Minister shall annually prepare a report on the state of drinking water in Ontario and table it in the Legislature.
(2)The report dealing with a given calendar year shall be tabled on or before April 1 in the following calendar year.
(3)The report shall include,
(a)a report on the work of the Water Advisory Council during the year;
(b)a summary of the information added to the water quality registry under section 6 during the year;
(c)a report on the review under subsection 18 (5) conducted during the previous year and a statement of the recommendations made under that subsection;
(d)if a Safe Drinking Water Fund is established under section 19, a report on its operation during the year;
(e)a summary of measures taken by the Government of Ontario during the year to address issues of water quality;
(f)a statement of measures to be taken by the Government of Ontario during the following year to address issues of water quality; and
(g)any prescribed information.
(4)The first report under subsection (1) shall be tabled on or before April 1, 2001 and shall cover the period that begins on the day this Act comes into force and ends on December 31, 2000.
16.This Act binds the Crown.
17.In the event of conflict between any provision of this Act or the regulations made under it, and a provision of any other Act or regulation, this Act and the regulations made under it prevail.
18.(1)The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make such regulations as are advisable to protect and enhance drinking water quality throughout Ontario.
(2)Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations,
(a)prescribing as a contaminant any biological, chemical, physical or radiological agent or combination of them;
(b)prescribing as a substance anything that affects the odour, appearance or taste of drinking water;
(c)prescribing maximum permitted contaminant levels, maximum permitted substance levels and other standards for drinking water;
(d)respecting procedures for water tests to be conducted under clause 3 (1) (a) and section 14;
(e)prescribing the frequency with which water tests shall be conducted under clause 3 (1) (a) and prescribing the circumstances under which more frequent tests shall be conducted;
(f)prescribing the timing and content of notices to users under clause 3 (3) (b) and the manner in which they shall be given;
(g)establishing procedures, including qualifications, standards and tests, for the accreditation of water testing laboratories under subsection 4 (1);
(h)respecting the water quality registry to be established under subsection 6 (1);
(i)prescribing anything referred to in this Act as being prescribed.
Interim regulation: Ontario Drinking Water Objectives
(3)On the day this Act comes into force, the document entitled ``Ontario Drinking Water Objectives, Revised 1994" published by the Ministry of the Environment shall be deemed to be a regulation made under subsections (1) and (2).
Replacement of interim regulation
(4)On or before the first anniversary of the day this Act comes into force, the deemed regulation described in subsection (3) shall be replaced by a comprehensive new regulation under subsections (1) and (2).
(5)The Minister shall, annually, conduct a public review of all the regulations made under this section to evaluate their adequacy in protecting human health, and shall make recommendations for amendment to the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
Safe Drinking Water Fund
19.(1)The Minister may establish a Safe Drinking Water Fund for the purpose of providing technical and financial assistance to public water suppliers, to ensure that they are able to meet their obligations under this Act.
(2)Some examples of the goals to which the technical and financial assistance may be dedicated are,
(a)maintaining and improving drinking water quality;
(b)improving water delivery systems;
(c)providing employee training;
(d)establishing programs to assess and protect water source areas.
20.This Act comes into force on the day it receives Royal Assent.
21.The short title of this Act is the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2000.
The purposes of the Bill are to recognize that people who use public water systems in Ontario have a right to receive clean and safe drinking water from them, to restore public confidence in the quality of drinking water throughout Ontario, and to protect and enhance the quality of drinking water in Ontario.
Operators of public water systems are required to have water quality tested regularly by accredited water testing laboratories. The operators and the laboratories are required to report test results promptly to the Ministry of the Environment. If a test indicates the water exceeds maximum permitted levels of contaminants or substances or contravenes prescribed standards, or if certain other situations arise, the operator and the laboratory are required to report immediately to the Ministry and to the local medical officer of health.
The Ministry will operate a water quality registry, available to the public in electronic form, that compiles all water testing results for public water systems.
It is an offence for the operator of a public water system to provide water that exceeds maximum permitted contaminant or substance levels or contravenes prescribed standards. It is an offence for any person to pollute a public or private water system. It is an offence for the operator of a public water system or a water testing laboratory to fail to comply with monitoring and notice requirements.
Water users are entitled to sue to recover damages for a contravention of the Act. Any person may apply for judicial review of the Minister's exercise of powers and performance of duties under the Act.
The Bill creates a Water Advisory Council to advise the Minister on current research and on matters affecting drinking water quality.
The Minister is required to have research conducted into various water-related matters and to table in the Legislature an annual report on the state of drinking water in Ontario. The Minister is empowered to establish a Safe Drinking Water Fund to provide assistance to public water suppliers.
The Act includes a variety of regulation-making powers to be exercised by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. As an interim measure, the "Ontario Drinking Water Objectives" published by the Ministry of the Environment in 1994 are deemed to be a regulation under the Act, to be replaced by a comprehensive new regulation within one year.