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, 2002.
Recommended by Justice O'Connor in the Part Two Report of the Walkerton Inquiry, and created under the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002, the 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.
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 recommendations in the Part Two Report of the Walkerton Inquiry.
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 noted that:
- 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 process.
- Recommendations made to the Minister of the Environment should be made public and should be supported by the advisory council on standards’ rationale.
- 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 Part Two Report of the Walkerton Inquiry Recommendations that were directed to the Council:
- 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 water quality.”
- 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 disinfectants.”
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.
- Standards Review:
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.
Memorandum of Understanding (July 7, 2010)