Source Water Protection
Source water is the water that Water Treatment Plants use to supply us with safe, clean drinking water. It can be drawn from surface water sources like lakes and rivers through intakes or from groundwater aquifers through wells. In the Essex Region, our municipal drinking water comes from lakes and rivers – Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River. There are eight municipal Water Treatment Plants (WTPs) that serve over 95 percent of the population in the Essex region. The remaining population, less than five percent, depends on groundwater or hauled water.
Drinking Water Source Protection has been identified as the first line of defense in protecting drinking water. Through the Clean Water Act, 2006, a local Source Protection Committee worked together with ERCA, municipalities, community groups and residents to develop a local, watershed-based Source Protection Plan to protect our source water from contamination and overuse, now and into the future. The Plan contains policies to ensure that the identified potential risks are managed in a way that protects our drinking water using a variety of tools ranging from prohibition of activities that threaten drinking water to education and outreach policies which encourage voluntary good practices. Following an extensive process that included broad public input, the Essex Region SPP came into effect on October 1, 2015.
If you own property near a municipal surface water intake, or have a large volume of liquid fuel stored within a designated vulnerable area, you may be affected by a source protection plan. Use our online mapping tool or the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change’s interactive mapping tool to determine if your property is in a vulnerable area and what policies apply.
We all have a role to play in caring for our water. If we want clean water tomorrow, we need to protect our sources of water today.
Protecting Your Drinking Water
In May 2000, the Walkerton tragedy occurred as a result of E. coli contamination of the groundwater supplying a municipal drinking water well. Seven people died and thousands more became ill from drinking the contaminated water, many of whom have been left with life-changing chronic conditions. Justice Dennis O’Connor led a public inquiry and made numerous recommendations to better protect Ontario’s drinking water in the future. A key conclusion was the need to have multiple layers of protection in place, a concept commonly referred to as the multi-barrier approach. The first barrier is protecting the drinking water at the source or “Source Water Protection.”
October 2006 – Clean Water Act
The Ontario Government responded to the Walkerton Inquiry recommendations by strengthening existing legislation and introducing new legislation where needed. The Clean Water Act was enacted and the Source Water Protection program began. The focus of the Clean Water Act is the protection of rivers, lakes and groundwater that supply municipal drinking water systems (the large systems that serve villages, towns and cities). Source Water Protection planning was undertaken in 19 source protection regions across Ontario, including the Essex Region.
2007 – Source Protection Committee Established
The Clean Water Act stipulated that a local multi-stakeholder Source Protection Committee oversee the source protection program in each region. Municipalities, industry, small business, environmental interests, agriculture and the public are represented on the Essex Region Source Protection Committee. The Committee is supported by the Conservation Authority’s Board of Directors, which under the Clean Water Act, is referred to as the “Source Protection Authority.” The Committee was established in 2007 and continues to oversee our local program.
2015 – Assessment Report Approved
The Essex Region Source Protection Assessment Report is a compilation of studies looking at each watershed’s physical characteristics, water quality and quantity and land use. This report identifies vulnerable areas where certain activities that could pose a threat to drinking water sources.
2015 – Source Protection Plan Approved
The Essex Region Source Protection Plan contains policies to protect local drinking water sources. The policies were developed by the Essex Region Source Protection based on the science included in the Assessment Report. Mandatory policies apply to certain activities in the identified vulnerable areas. The Essex Region Source Protection Plan came into effect on October 1, 2015. The Plan and Assessment Report will be updated as required under the Clean Water Act or as new information becomes available.
Source Protection Committee
The Essex Region Source Protection Committee consists of 15 members plus a Chair and is comprised of representatives from sectors that encompass the broad, multi-sectoral interests of our region. The staff at the Essex Region Source Protection Authority carry out the technical requirements of the Clean Water Act. The Essex Region Conservation Authority Board of Directors is designated as the Source Protection Authority in the Essex Region.
Tom Fuerth, Chair
Tom Fuerth is a retired Professional Engineer from the University of Windsor. Tom also has dedicated over 35 years to public service, first as a Councillor/ Deputy Reeve/Deputy Mayor for Sandwich South and Essex County Councillor, then as a Councillor in the Town of Tecumseh. He has chaired many organizations, including the County Library Board, Windsor-Essex Community Health Committee, Police Service Selection Committee for amalgamated Tecumseh, County Fire, Planning and Personnel Committees, and the Public Relations Committee for Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital. Tom also served as Chair of the Essex Region Conservation Authority and as a Director for Libro Credit Union. This strong background in public service and leadership combined with his experience in developing consensus and team building are strong assets that Mr. Fuerth has brought to the Source Protection Committee.
Antonietta Giofu, P.ENG
Antonietta Giofu is a University of Windsor alumnus and has 10 years experience in the industrial and manufacturing field as an Environmental Engineer for Ford Motor Company and Nemak. She is currently the Environmental Services Engineer for the Town of Amherstburg in the Water and Wastewater Department. “I am very excited to be a part of this important committee and look forward to doing my part in protecting our drinking water sources,” she says. Antonietta is hoping to use her experience in both the industrial and manufacturing fields as well as her experience in the Municipal sector to assist the committee in achieving its goal of safe drinking water.
Nelson Santos received his B.A. in Social Science (Political Science) from the University of Windsor. He was first elected to Kingsville Council in 1997 and has served as Mayor for the Town of Kingsville since 2003. Nelson has been a sitting Essex County Councillor since 2000. He is also a past Chair of ERCA, past Essex County Warden 2006-2010 and past Co-chair of the Windsor -Essex Environment Committee. Nelson is honoured to join this dynamic team and is looking forward to providing a supporting role to the improvement and protection of our communities and our environment’s key resources. He hopes to help strengthen our collective efforts to reduce risks that threaten our environmental health.
Dave Monk is a graduate of St. Clair College and Georgian College. He has training in Health and Safety and Mechanical Engineering. Dave was elected for 5 terms on the General Council for Local CAW195 overseeing union business of 5000 members. He is involved in Earth Day activities and sat on an Endangered Spaces committee whose primary goal was saving the LaSalle woodlot. Dave is currently serving his second 4 year term as an elected Municipal Councillor with Lakeshore. This Councillor position has included some of the following committees: Seniors committee; Youth Council; Chair of the Joint Essex County Dog Pound Board; Recreation committee; MURF fundraising committee (Atlas Tube centre); various successful grant committees; Heritage Committee. He is also presently Grand Knight of the Belle River Knights of Columbus Council # 2775.
Paul Drca received his Diploma in Chemical Engineering Technology from St. Clair College and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Windsor. He has been employed with the City of Windsor’s Public Works, Pollution Control Department for 34 years. In his present position as Manager Environmental Quality, Paul is responsible for the management of the Pollution Control Laboratory, Sewer Use By-law enforcement and corporate Environmental Master Plan initiatives. Paul is a member of the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) Climate Change Committee and Wastewater Committee. He is also a member of the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the Water Environment Association of Ontario (WEAO). Paul is pleased that he can offer his experience to the protection of potable water supplies in the Windsor/Essex County area and looks forward to ensuring that reasonable, practical and cost effective approaches to the protection of our water supply are prepared and appropriately implemented.
Thom is a Registered Professional Planner (MCIP, RPP) and graduate of the University of Windsor and St. Clair College. He holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in Urban Planning, a Masters Degree, and a Diploma in Civil Engineering. Thom has over 30 years of professional and multi-disciplinary experience and has held various roles in both private and public practice including consulting engineering, conservation authorities, and local community and sustainability initiatives; he joined the City of Windsor’s Planning and Building Department in 1998 and is currently the Executive Director and City Planner.
A sheep and cattle farmer from Kingsville, John has served as the Past President of the Essex Christian Farmers, Past Vice President District One Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency, and is a 4H Leader. He is also a support of the Friends of Wigle Creek, is a member of ERCA’s Agricultural Liaison Committee and a proponent of establishing a local food network. With all this experience at hand, it’s no wonder that John was chosen by the agricultural community to be one of their two representatives. “I am very excited about being involved in protecting one of our most vital resources: clean water,” he says. “My father predicted many years ago that in my lifetime, we’d be heavily involved in water related issues. I am hoping to actively promote what’s best for society as a whole while remembering how important water is to productive, sustainable rural agriculture.”
Hans Peter Pfeifer
A viticulturist from Harrow, Peter studied Viticulture and Enology in Germany, and has been actively involved in grape growing and agriculture for nearly 30 years. He is looking forward to being involved in the process to protect drinking water at its source. “I want to ensure that our water remains a high quality renewable resource.”
Ian Wilson has a Masters of Applied Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Windsor where his research on hydrologic and non-point source pollutant loading modeling was developed in conjunction with and incorporated into the Big Creek Watershed Plan. He has previously worked for the City of Windsor and the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) and currently works for a national consulting firm, Dillon Consulting Limited, as a member of the water resource engineering practice. Ian has five years’ experience in water resource research, design, and scientific studies has experience and provides technical support for many regional Municipal Drainage Reports in accordance with the Ontario Drainage Act. Ian is excited and feels privileged to be part of the team that will develop regional policies for protecting the Essex Region’s water quality and resources.
Nathan Warkentin is the Energy and Environment Analyst for the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers. He has been with OGVG since 2017. Nathan assists growers with ECA applications, annual reports, and contingency plans. He coordinates research projects including one with the Great Lakes Institute of Environmental Research on Storm Water Retention Pond water quality. He also provides sector insight on the latest energy and environmental technology, policy, and research. Previously, Nathan received an M.Sc. in Sustainability Management and worked as a carbon accountant for an environmental service company in Toronto.
Jean-Marc Beneteau is the President of Essex Soil and Crop Association, a committee member of the Southwest Agricultural Conference, and also served as a provincial director of the Ontario Corn Producers Association. Mr.Beneteau chaired the Ontario Agricultural Commodity Council and was an Essex Region Conservation Farm award winner. He is the owner and operator of a Grain & Oilseed farming operation in the Woodslee Area and is excited to use his experience to help improve water quality in a sustainable manner.
Tim was recently employed as a Senior Project Manager for Stantec Consulting Ltd. in Windsor. Formerly, he was the Director of Public Works for the Town of Lakeshore. In that capacity he was responsible for the administration of all road, water and wastewater operations for a municipality with a population of 30,000. The Town of Lakeshore owns and operates two water treatment plants, a pollution control plant and two sewage lagoon systems. The road network consists of approximately 600 kilometers of roads and related bridge and railway crossing infrastructure. Tim was also Administrator Clerk Treasurer of the former Town of Belle River, as well as Manager Secretary Treasurer of the Belle River Hydro Electric Commission and the Lakeshore Hydro Electric Commission prior to amalgamation in 1999.
Prior to his over twenty years of municipal experience, Tim was self-employed as a drainage Contractor for 9 years and completed several small drainage, watermain and sewer repair projects in Essex County.
Bill Dukes is the Water Quality Compliance/Water Operator for the Town of Lakeshore and brings over 14 years experience in water treatment and distribution of municipal drinking water, to our committee. Bill is a current member of the Walkerton Clean Water Centre Research Advisory Committee and has previous experience with the Ontario Clean Water Agency, Union Water Supply System, and South Peel Water Supply System. He has his Water Operator Certificate, Class 4, for water treatment, and Class 2 for water distribution and supply, and water quality analysis. Bill is honoured to be selected as a committee member and plans to work towards bringing attention to the issue of protecting drinking water at its source, to help the water treatment processes.
Ron retired after 35 years with Fiat Chrysler Canada Windsor as a Paint Production Planner. He is a lifelong resident of Lakeshore who also enjoys fishing in the Essex County lakes and rivers. He is an active member of the Knights of Columbus Council 2775 and a current member of the Lakeshore Committee of Adjustments and Police Service Board. Ron is pleased and honoured to have been selected to serve on the Source Protection Committee and hopes to utilize his numerous years of experience in manufacturing. He looks forward to becoming knowledgeable of the committee programs and projects and is proud to work with his fellow members in developing and maintaining a Source Protection Plan that will sustain our drinking water.
The committee adheres to the following Code of Conduct and Rules of Procedure.
Source Protection Plan
The Source Protection Plan (SPP) was developed by the Source Protection Committee together with the Essex Region Source Protection Authority (ERSPA), municipalities, and other stakeholders. It contains 50 policies that use a variety of tools to ensure that identified potential threats that might be a risk to drinking water sources are managed or eliminated.
The SPP is accompanied by an Explanatory Document that provides the rationale for policy decisions. Following an extensive process that included broad public consultation, the Essex Region SPP was approved on April 15, 2015, and came into effect on October 1, 2015.
On April 14, 2016, all policies in the Essex Region Source Protection Plan related to the handling and storage of fuel were updated to clarify the intent to address all types of fuel and not just those containing 2% benzene or more. This update was made under S. 51(1)(6) of Ontario Regulation 287/07.
Meeting Minutes and Agendas
The Assessment Report (AR) is a technical document that describes the local watershed, assesses the quantity and quality of the available water supply, maps out the vulnerable areas, and identifies any threats in these areas that may be a risk to drinking water sources. The AR is based on the completion of detailed technical studies that underwent rigorous peer review. The AR was approved in March 2105; however, it is a ‘living document’ and will be updated and amended as new information becomes available.
*Appendices to the Assessment Report are available upon request.
Vulnerable Areas are areas where certain types of activities may pose a threat to drinking water quality or quantity. The vulnerability of these areas is a measure of how easily contaminants may reach a surface water intake, or penetrate the ground to reach the aquifer supplying a well. In the Essex Region, our drinking water comes from surface water intakes and the Vulnerability Areas are called Intake Protection Zones (IPZs) and Event Based Areas (EBAs). Mandatory policies to protect drinking from certain threats apply in these areas. We have also identified Highly Vulnerable Aquifers (HVAs) and Significant Groundwater Recharge Areas (SGRAs) that identify areas where groundwater would be susceptible to contamination, however, there are no mandatory policies that apply to these areas because groundwater is not used to supply municipal water treatment plants.
Intake Protection Zones are areas of land and water where run-off from streams or drainage systems could carry contaminants that could impact the source water at the municipal drinking water intakes. Mandatory policies apply in Windsor’s IPZ-1 and IPZ-2 as well as the Belle River’s IPZ-1 and Amherstburg’s IPZ-1.
- IPZ-1 – these are the areas closest to an intake where a spill would pose the greatest threat to sources of drinking water. The IPZ-1 is a 1km circle or semi-circle around the intake. Where the IPZ-1 abuts land, it includes a minimum setback of 120 m inland.
- IPZ-2 – these areas are just beyond the IPZ-1. The limits of this zone reflect the response time for the water treatment plant operator to respond to an emergency. In the Essex Region, these are areas where water (and contaminants) could reach the intake within 2 hours.
- IPZ-3 – these areas extend outward from the IPZ-2 and include setbacks from all streams or drainage systems where modeling demonstrates that contaminant spills may reach the intake during an extreme rainfall or wind storm event. In the Essex Region, IPZ-3s include a 120m setback around all of our waterways, as well as some lands along the Detroit River shorelines and floodplain areas.
The Event Based Area is an area where modeling has demonstrated that a spill from a specific activity could contaminate sources of drinking water. In the Essex Region, the EBA is the combination of IPZ-1, IPZ-2 and IPZ-3 for modeled activities (i.e. fuel spills). The EBA covers an extensive area where mandatory polices related to the handling and storage of large volumes of liquid fuel apply.
To determine whether your property is in a vulnerable area and what policies may apply, please use our interactive mapping tool. To see what’s happening in the rest of Ontario, please visit the Source Protection Information Atlas.
Risk Management Plans
A Risk Management Plan is a legally binding document that outlines any measures that may need to be taken by the landowner to help reduce the risk that a certain activity could contaminate municipal drinking water. If a Risk Management Plan is required, the RMO/I will provide a template and will work with you to create a plan that is appropriate for your property.
- The plan focuses on prevention — it allows activities that are important to residents and business owners to carry on within vulnerable drinking water areas while at the same time ensuring the municipal drinking water source is protected.
- The plan is site-specific – it is customized to suit the nature of the property, activity or business and can address multiple activities if necessary.
- The plan includes and accounts for measures that are already in place – some people will only need to document what they are already doing to protect drinking water.
Risk Management Plans are being developed for both pre-existing significant drinking water threats and any new threats. If you have a pre-existing threat, the RMO/I will be in contact with you directly. The RMO/I works closely with municipal Planning and Building staff to identify new threats before they are in place. If you will be building or installing something that might be a drinking water threat, you will be asked to fill out S.59 (Restricted Land Use) application.
Drinking Water Protection Zones
Road signs have been installed across the Essex Region Source Protection Area as part of a provincial awareness initiative about protecting drinking water sources. Over 750 signs are installed across the province to identify Drinking Water Protection Zones.These signs identify sections of road where accidental spills could contaminate our sources of drinking water. As part of the Essex Region Source Protection Plan implementation, emergency responders have been notified about these zones so that public water sources can be protected in the event of a spill. The use of a standardized sign throughout Ontario will help to raise public awareness about the importance of protecting our local drinking water sources.
The main risk to drinking water in our local area has been identified as fuel, and if a spill is identified, residents should contact the Spills Action Center at 1-800-268-6060.
Annual Progress Reports use a Provincially approved template to summarize the progress made toward implementing the 50 policies contained in the Essex Region Source Protection Plan (SPP) each year. Risk Management Services Annual Reports provide more detail to summarize the actions taken by ERCA’s Risk Management Office to implement polices that use Part IV of the Clean Water Act during the same time period.
Source Protection Plans and Assessment Reports must be comprehensively reviewed and updated per Section 36 (S. 36) of the Clean Water Act in order to ensure sustained protection of the municipal drinking water sources. A S. 36 workplan containing 15 proposed updates to the Essex Region Source Protection Plan and/or Assessment Report was completed and submitted to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks on November 30, 2018. Completion of these updates is dependent on approval of the workplan and financial support.