Source Water Protection
Source Water Protection is a provincial program designed to safeguard municipal drinking water at the source. In Ontario, the source of municipal drinking water is either groundwater based (from municipal wells) or surface water based (from municipal water intakes).
In London, both sources of water are used for primary and standby drinking water purposes. Both sources of water are regional given that our primary drinking water source is the Great Lakes (specifically Lakes Huron and Erie) and our stand-by system relies on regional groundwater supplies. Therefore, we rely on the combined efforts of several “Regions” across the province to safeguard both sources of drinking water. Protecting groundwater also has additional benefits of protecting the water for local use in private wells and for the environmental connections that include baseflow to the river, to our streams and creeks, and for our wetlands in London.
There are three Source Water Protection Regions important in keeping our drinking water safe:
- Thames Sydenham Region is the largest area within the City of London (81% of London being the Thames River watershed) and is where both the City’s groundwater well fields are located. These stand-by well fields (Hyde Park and Fanshawe well fields - see pdfs) provide back-up water supply in the event of an emergency.
- Lake Erie Region is the region that includes the most southerly area of the City of London that drains south to Lake Erie through Kettle Creek (16% of London). London also utilizes a surface water intake located outside London but within this region, east of Port Stanley that draws Lake Erie water for use in London and 6 other municipalities. The Elgin Area Primary Water Supply System administers this facility.
- Ausable Bayfield Maitland Region is a third region entirely located outside London however where the City of London has an interest. This region includes the Grand Bend area where a surface water intake draws water from Lake Huron for use in London and 7 other municipalities. The Lake Huron Primary Water Supply System administers this facility (web link).
The Source Water Protection program, established and funded by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE), was initiated as a result of the drinking water tragedy in Walkerton, Ontario in 2000 and directed with the passing of the Clean Water Act in 2006 and associated regulations in 2007. The process is therefore prescribed in legislation and closely directed by the MOE through rules and protocols.