Owners and operators of small drinking water systems need to be aware of changes to how their drinking water system is now being regulated by the Ontario government. If your business makes drinking water available to the public and you do not get your drinking water from a municipal drinking water system, you are likely an owner and/or operator of a “small drinking water system.”
Small drinking water systems include restaurants, seasonal trailer parks, summer camps, community centres, libraries, gas stations, motels, churches as well as any other public facility that makes drinking water available to the general public. If you are not sure whether your water supply fits the definition of a Small Drinking Water System, contact your local public health unit.
Responsibility for small drinking water systems has been transferred, as of December 1st, 2008 to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care from the Ministry of the Environment. At this time two new Small Drinking Water Systems regulations under the Health Protection and Promotion Act came into effect: O. Reg. 318/08 (Transitional – Small Drinking Water Systems) and O. Reg. 319/08 (Small Drinking Water Systems). Under this new legislation, small drinking water systems will be inspected by and are the responsibility of local boards of health.
Public health inspectors have been mandated to conduct a site-specific risk assessment on every small drinking water system in the province. The risk assessment will determine what owners and operators must do to establish and maintain a safe drinking water supply. This will be achieved through the issuance of directives for the system, which may include requirements such as water sampling, water treatment and operator training. This reflects a customized approach for each small drinking water system, dependent upon on the level of risk associated with each system, rather than a “one-size-fits-all” attack.