Welcome to the home of the Ontario Drinking Water Advisory
Council, officially known as the "Advisory Council on
Drinking Water Quality and Testing Standards" in the Safe Drinking Water Act,
Justice O'Connor in the Part Two Report of the Walkerton Inquiry, and created under the Safe Drinking Water Act,
Council's mandate is to advise the Minister of the Environment on
drinking water standards, legislation, regulations, and issues, to
protect the water that Ontarians drink.
In The News:
About The Council
The Ontario government has set clear goals for protecting the
water that Ontarians drink and is committed to implementing all of the
in the Part Two Report of the
On May 23, 2002, Justice O’Connor, in the Part Two Report of the
Walkerton Inquiry, made six
recommendations regarding an “advisory council on standards”.
Specifically, Recommendation 25 states that “In setting drinking
water standards for Ontario, the Minister of the Environment should be
advised by an Advisory Council on Standards”.
In recommending an advisory council on standards, Justice O’Connor
- It is reasonable to seek expertise from the advisory council on
standards from the broader public, as it may not reside in the
Ministry of the Environment.
- The benefits of an advisory council on standards include
transparency in process and increased public participation.
- The advisory council on standards should establish its own
- Recommendations made to the Minister of the Environment should
be made public and should be supported by the advisory council on
- The advisory council on standards should also advise the
minister with respect to management, treatment, testing, materials,
and reporting standards.
The Safe Drinking Water Act was promulgated in 2002, and on
May 12, 2004,
The Minister of the Environment announced the
establishment of the “Advisory Council on Drinking-Water Quality and
Testing Standards” (Council). Enabled under Section 4 of the Safe
Drinking Water Act, 2002, the Council is “to consider issues
relating to standards for drinking-water quality and testing and to make
recommendations to the Minister” of the Environment, which are to be
“taken into consideration in establishing and revising standards
under this Act for drinking-water quality and testing.”
The Minister of the
Environment appointed members to the Council,
chaired by Jim Merritt, from key
professional fields representing a cross-section of academia, industry
and municipalities, with expertise in the areas of microbiology,
toxicology, engineering, utility operations, public health, and others with a record of interest and accomplishment related to
drinking water. They are active in their areas of knowledge and bring
their current and direct experience to the Council.
On June 10, 2004, the Council held its inaugural meeting.
The Minister of the Environment
was in attendance and asked the Council to focus on the
Report of the Walkerton Inquiry Recommendations that were directed to the
- Recommendation 27: “The
Advisory Council on Standards should consider whether to replace the
coliform test with an E. coli test.”
- Recommendation 28: “No
formal maximum contaminant level for protozoa should be established
until real-time tests are available. The objective, as with
bacteriological and viral pathogens, should be zero, and the
regulations should so state; but the standard should be a treatment
standard, specified in terms of log removal dependent on source
- Recommendation 29: “The
provincial government should seek the advice of the Advisory Council
on Standards regarding the desirability of a turbidity limit that is
lower than the limit specified in the federal-provincial Guidelines.”
- Recommendation 31:
“The Advisory Council on Standards should review Ontario’s standards
for disinfection by-products to take account of the risks that may
be posed by the by-products of all chemical and radiation-based
The Minister of the Environment also asked the Council to provide
advice on the Drinking-Water Systems
Regulation, O. Reg. 170/03, with respect to appropriate requirements for
small water systems, and particularly private ones; and on the
Wells Regulation, O. Reg. 903, with respect
to disinfection requirements.
The broad mandate of the Council is to provide advice and make
recommendations to the Minister of the Environment on drinking water
quality and testing standards, as well as other drinking water matters.
The role of the Council includes, but is not necessarily limited to, the
following core activities:
- Requests for Advice from the Minister of the Environment:
Providing advice on drinking water policies, practices, procedures,
standards, testing methods, and related research, as requested by
the Minister of the Environment.
Reviewing research, scientific, and technical documentation related
to drinking water quality and testing standards, including
Federal-Provincial-Territorial priorities, in order to provide
advice to the Minister of the Environment on standards and their
applicability in Ontario. In addition, the Part Two Report of the
Walkerton Inquiry noted in Recommendation 26, that “The Advisory
Council on Standards should have the authority to recommend that the
provincial government adopt standards for contaminants that are not
on the current federal-provincial agenda.”
- Council Initiatives:
Making recommendations on drinking water matters that the
Council has become aware of and has identified as being on interest, and which may merit the attention of the Minister of the Environment.
- Stakeholder Consultation:
Publishing information on the Environmental Registry and undertaking
additional consultations on standards, regulations, or other
drinking water matters, to solicit views from the general public in
order to provide recommendations to the Minister of the Environment.
Understanding (July 7, 2010)