What is a Source Protection Plan?
There are various tools and approaches that may be included in a Source Protection Plan. Many of these are already available to people who manage land uses and activities, such as municipalities, for the protection of drinking water. Some of these will be familiar to people, such as land-use planning (by-laws and zoning), regulations (e.g. you need a nutrient management plan to apply animal waste), and stewardship (e.g. education and Best Management Practices). Others may be less familiar, such as monitoring water quality to make sure an activity is not impacting the local area in a way that would negatively impact the drinking water supply.
What is a Source Protection Committee?
Conservation Authorities, which have been grouped into 19 Source Protection Areas and Regions for efficiency, and participating Municipalities have been responsible for conducting the six technical components that make up the Assessment Report. Established in late 2007, Source Protection Committees, with support from Conservation Authority and Municipal staff, are responsible for developing source local, watershed-based source protection plans by 2012.
How will Source Protection Planning affect me and my community?
If you live near an Intake Protection Zone, a Wellhead Protection Area, or near a Highly Vulnerable Aquifer or Significant Recharge Area and you engage in any type of activity that could pose a significant threat to a drinking water supply, there is a good chance you will be required to make some changes. If you run a business or agricultural operation in one of these areas, you may need to make a lot of changes, or, depending on how you currently operate, you may not need to make many or any changes. If you are following recognized best practices and regulations for your industry then it is likely you already doing enough to manage your activity. In very rare instances where a landowner or business is operating in a manner that poses a significant risk to a drinking water supply, they may have to make more substantial changes to the operation. The best way to reduce the effect of any changes will be to work together co-operatively with the regulating body.
At this point in the source protection planning process, the implementing bodies or the public are being consulted by Source Protection Areas to provide input on draft policies. After August 2012, when vulnerable areas have been identified and mapped, threats have been determined and verified, and Source Protection Plans are complete, we will have a better idea of the measures needed to protect our sources of drinking water. Whatever changes that may be required of you, it’s always good to remember that the cost of cleaning up a contaminated source of water is always much higher than protecting it in the first place.
How do I know if I am a threat to drinking water?
Every day, as more information is collected, more research is completed, more maps are created and more technical guidance from the Province is finalized, the answer is becoming clearer about what is a threat to municipal drinking water sources and who needs to be notified. If you end up being in a vulnerable area, you will be notified by your local Conservation Authority. You can stay involved by watching local papers or making a point of regularly checking the website of your local Source Protection Area.
What is an Assessment Report?
The area of land that drains water in a given region is known as a watershed. A watershed can be thought of as bathroom sink. Any rain or snow that falls within the sink-bowl runs down the sides of the sink and into the drain, which can also be thought of as a water supply intake such as a well or surface water intake pipe. Watersheds are based on natural boundaries, created by natural features of the land. They do not follow municipal, provincial or even national borders.
An Assessment Report looks at an entire watershed, or the bathroom sink, and the factors influencing the quality and amount of water (quantity) found there. Assessment Reports are a key requirement of the Clean Water Act, involve the six technical components outlined below and include information such as the physical characteristics of the land, land uses, where drinking water supplies are located, how much water is being used and how much is available for future uses, where vulnerable water supply areas are located, what issues already compromise drinking water sources and what threatens drinking water sources from overuse and contamination.
Assessment Reports will provide Source Protection Committees with information that will help determine how best to protect the quality and supply of their local water resources. They will be the basis for developing Source Protection Plans and making local policy decisions for protecting drinking water.
What is a Watershed Characterization?
What is a Water Budget?
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The Water Budget process can include up to four tiers, which start simple and get more complex if there are problems with how much water is available in the area. The higher the level or tier, the more complex the science involved and the smaller the area of study. The purpose of moving from one tier of water budget to another is so those involved in source protection planning can be certain about the amount of stress a water supply is under and be sure the complex work is focused on areas that really need it.
What is a Water Quantity Threats Assessment?
The Water Quantity Threats Assessment is an important component of the Assessment Report because when more water is taken from an area than can be naturally replenished, such as for human consumption, irrigation or industrial activities, water supplies are threatened and water shortages are possible.
What is a Surface Water Vulnerability Analysis ?
Because it is above ground, surface water, or water that is found in lakes, rivers and streams, is vulnerable to many types of contaminants. The Surface Water Vulnerability Analysis is the part of the Assessment Report that looks at the likelihood that surface water will become contaminated, especially in the areas around drinking water intake pipes. The Surface Water Vulnerability Analysis requires that vulnerable areas around intake pipes (also known as Intake Protection Zones or IPZs) be identified, mapped and given vulnerability scores. An uncertainty assessment is also done to identify where the science may need to be improved in future source protection planning cycles.
What is a Groundwater Vulnerability Analysis?
What is the Drinking Water Quality Threats Analysis?
Drinking water issues can be chronic, which means they have existed over a long period of time or reoccur seasonally and are likely to continue if nothing is done to address the activities that cause them. Through the source protection planning process, issues that impact water quality will be linked to specific land uses and/or areas so that actions can be taken to manage them.
For the Drinking Water Quality Threats Analysis, drinking water threats are classified as significant, moderate or low. In order for a threat to be included in the Assessment Report, it must first be recognized by the provincial government in the official threats table. Threats not listed by the provincial government can be included with proper approval. To add a threat, it must be proven, using science and professional experience, that the threat has the ability to impact human health.
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