The Ontario Ground Water Association [ FALL/WINTER 2017 ] Page 21  Placed a two-year moratorium on all new and expanded permits to take water from groundwater sources for water bottling. This moratorium will be in place until January 1, 2019.  Introduced stricter rules for renewals of existing water taking permits for bottled water in April 2017. The new rules will increase public reporting and transparency related to these water takings and enhance scientific requirements for making decisions on renewal applications.  Began charging water bottling companies $500 for every million litres of groundwater taken on August 1, 2017, in addition to the $3.71 they already pay. The new fee will help recover costs to manage this vital resource, including supporting scientific research on the environmental impacts associated with taking groundwater for water bottling and enhanced data analysis.  Engaged Indigenous communities, industry and other communities on changes to water quality management practices. In addition, water budgets that take into account climate change and growth are being used when permits to take water are reviewed. Water budgets are science-based tools that evaluate the sustainability of a municipal drinking water source. Where a source of drinking water is at risk, a water budget is used to identify activities that may be contributing to the risk. These risks can then be managed. Source water protection Protecting our local drinking water sources — both groundwater and surface water — is the first step in Ontario’s comprehensive multi-barrier approach to providing safe drinking water to Ontarians. Across the province, municipalities, ministries and others are implementing source protection plans. Together, these plans are helping protect the sources of nearly 450 municipal drinking water systems in a geographic area that covers 95% of Ontario’s population. Ontario also extended grant funding agreements to March 31, 2018, to allow municipalities to continue to use funds from the Source Protection Municipal Implementation Fund towards source protection plan implementation. Since 2013, this fund provided more than $14 million to nearly 200 small, rural municipalities to implement source protection policies that address significant threats to their drinking water sources. To learn more about local source protection plans or progress reports for your area, visit Conservation Ontario. Continuous improvement of source protection In spring 2017, Ontario amended technical rules used to develop science-based assessment reports that form part of the source protection plans. These amendments provide source protection authorities with flexibility to consider local conditions. For example, authorities are now able to identify drinking water systems in large water bodies, such as the Great Lakes and connecting channels, as more vulnerable to contamination. In March, Ontario also made improvements to its Source Water Protection Information Atlas on Ontario.ca. This map provides a provincewide view of more than 970 wellhead protection areas and 150 intake protection zones. It was updated to include parcel property boundaries, improved access to source protection policies and enhanced functionality, such as improved search and help functions. It is useful to anyone involved in land purchases or planners who have responsibilities to protect municipal drinking water sources. At the provincial level, government ministries that issue approvals that could affect drinking water sources use the atlas to screen new and existing approvals for potential source water protection implications. Compliance and enforcement activities Ministry inspectors have the authority to enforce Ontario’s drinking water protection laws. When requirements are not met, inspectors may issue contravention and/or preventative measures orders to improve compliance with the law. In 2016-17: •  Nine contravention and 2 preventative measures orders were issued to 11 non-municipal year-round residential drinking water systems. •  Eight systems serving designated facilities received 7 contravention orders and 1 preventative measures order. •  Three contravention orders were issued to 3 licensed laboratories. There were 6 cases with convictions involving 5 regulated systems and 1 non-licensed well contractor which, taken together, resulted in fines of $50,500. Updating Ontario’s drinking water standards An important part of Ontario’s eight-part drinking water safety net is the reliance on strict health-based drinking water quality standards. With the science of drinking water evolving all the time, it is important that Ontario’s drinking water quality standards reflect the best scientific findings and advice available. In December 2016, Ontario acted on internationally recognized scientific research and expert advice to introduce three new standards (for toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene), make changes to 2 others (for selenium and tetrachloroethylene) and remove 1 redundant standard (for nitrate and nitrite). These changes came into effect July 1, 2017. The ministry also updated 2 aesthetic objectives for ethylbenzene and xylene and adopted a new aesthetic objective for methyl-t-butyl ether. An aesthetic objective establishes desirable properties for such water characteristics as colour, odour, taste and turbidity. These amendments allow Ontario to align with national Health Canada guidelines and with recommendations provided by Ontario’s Drinking Water Advisory Council. More information about these amendments is available on the Environmental Registry. Figure 1: Ontario’s drinking water safety net