The Clean Water Act came into effect on July 3, 2007 and is intended to ensure the protection of municipal drinking water sources from rivers, lakes and groundwater, and subsequently human health and the environment. The Act sets out a risk-based process, on a watershed basis, to identify vulnerable areas and associated drinking water threats and issues though the preparation of Assessment Reports and Source Protection Plans.
Assessment Reports identify risks to municipal drinking water sources and Source Protection Plans put policies in place to protect municipal sources of drinking water. The intention is to protect existing and future drinking water sources by ensuring that where an activity is or would be a significant drinking water threat, that the activity never becomes a significant drinking water threat, or that the activity ceases to be a significant drinking water threat.
Within Middlesex County there are three Source Protection Plans:
- Thames-Sydenham and Region Source Protection Plan
- Lake Erie Source Protection Plan
- Ausable Bayfield Source Protection Plan
Within Middlesex County, there are four Municipal Drinking Source Water Systems that have Wellhead Protection Areas located within the Municipality of Thames Centre (Thorndale and Dorchester) and the Municipality of Middlesex Centre (Birr and Melrose). There also is one Municipal Drinking Source Water System within the adjacent Municipality of Central Elgin (Belmont) that has a Wellhead Protection Area that extends geographically into Middlesex County.
Land Use Planning and Municipal Risk Management Officials
The Clean Water Act requires land use planning decisions to conform to the Significant Threat policies of the Source Protection Plans and to have regard to other policies set out in the Source Protection Plans. The Clean Water Act requires municipalities to amend their Official Plans and Zoning By-laws to conform to the Source Protection Plans and this exercise has been undertaken by the Municipalities of Middlesex Centre and Thames Centre.
In addition to general land use planning policies that seek to protect, improve or restore the quality and quantity of water, within proximity to Municipal Drinking Source Water Systems land use activities which may pose a drinking water threat may be subject to additional review and scrutiny.
Wellhead Protection Areas surrounding municipal water supply sources have been mapped and can be reviewed using the County’s interactive mapping system. An application for development, redevelopment, or site alteration for any land use within Wellhead Protection Areas shall only be deemed complete if a Risk Management Official has issued a Notice in accordance with the Clean Water Act. Further, the Risk Management Official will have to determine if the proposed development, redevelopment, or site alteration is prohibited or regulated under the Clean Water Act.
Within Middlesex County, the Municipalities of Middlesex Centre and Thames Centre have appointed Risk Management Officials who should be the primary contacts regarding Source Water Protection.
Source Protection Committee Membership
The Clean Water Act requires that a component of the membership of the Source Protection Committees be comprised of municipal representatives. As it relates to Middlesex County, the following members are the municipal representatives.
Thames-Sydenham and Region Source Protection Committee – Mr. Jarrod Craven, Director of Public Works for the Municipality of Thames Centre, sits on the Committee on behalf of the County of Middlesex and the City of London.
Lake Erie Source Protection Committee – the County of Middlesex relies on the County of Elgin to appoint a representative to the Committee.
Ausable Bayfield Source Protection Committee – Mr. Ian Brebner, sits on the Committee on behalf of the Municipalities of Adelaide Metcalfe; Lambton Shores; Lucan Biddulph; Middlesex Centre; North Middlesex; and Warwick.
Middlesex County Source Protection Plan Implementation Background Report
Provincial Ministry of Environment and Energy
Thames-Sydenham and Region Source Protection
Lake Erie Source Protection
Ausable Bayfield Source Protection
Municipality of Thames Centre Building Department
Municipality of Middlesex Centre Building Department