The Northwestern Health Unit conducts on-site assessments of each small drinking water system in the Kenora and Rainy River Districts. Based on this assessment, a public health inspector determines what must be done to help keep the drinking water safe. This may include water testing, treatment, or training.
Are you operating a small drinking water system?
If your business or premises makes drinking water available to the public and you do not get your drinking water from a municipal drinking water system, you may be an owner or operator of a small drinking water system.
Small drinking water systems can include restaurants, seasonal trailer parks, tourist resorts, community centres, libraries, gas stations, motels, churches and many other public facilities. If you are not sure whether your premise operates a small drinking water system, contact a public health inspector at the Northwestern Health Unit.
SDWS Owner/Operator Obligations
According to Operations Manual for the MOHLTC Small Drinking Water System Program, “the owner/operator of SDWSs shall:
Designate an operator who is responsible for operating the system and complying with requirements for sampling, testing, and reporting
Notify the local Medical Officer of Health (MOH) of the name and address of the designated operator;
Comply with the requirements of O. Reg. 319/08 (Small Drinking Water Systems) 5 for monitoring, maintaining, and operating the system and its equipment;
Ensure that all water provided by the SDWS meets the requirements of the Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards;
Ensure every operator of the system is trained in drinking water system operation, maintenance, and safety and emergency procedures, as appropriate for the individual system;
Promptly notify all users of the system and the local PHU of any adverse findings or incidents that affect the safety of the drinking water;
Comply with directives issued by PHIs; and
Respond to Adverse Water Quality Incidents.”
High-risk SDWS are inspected at least once every two years, and at least once every four years for moderate- and low-risk systems.
Small drinking water system (SDWS) owners must have qualified individuals operate their systems, which are regulated under the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC).
To assess which certificates you require
, visit the OWWCO website
for a breakdown of small drinking water systems and their corresponding certificate requirements.
To maintain your “trained person” designation, you must complete one of these courses within 3 years of completing the Operation of Small Drinking Water Systems course:
Small System Fundamentals (classroom), offered by the Walkerton Clean Water Centre
Best Practices for Small Systems (classroom), offered by the Walkerton Clean Water Centre
Small Systems Hands-on Workshop (classroom), offered by the Walkerton Clean Water Centre
For more information on training, click here or call the NWHU.
ALS Laboratory Forms
Water samples are sent to the ALS Lab in Thunder Bay for
Click here to learn more about water testing and the shipping process. The form for the ALS lab can be found here: ALS Chain of Custody Form.
Adverse events are events that may impact the quality of water and include adverse observations and adverse test results. When an adverse event occurs, it is your responsibility to notify the Health Unit immediately, and a public health inspector will assist in determining the best response.
You can contact the NWHU during office hours by calling 1-800-830-5978. If you want to phone your local Northwestern Health Unit office you can find contact numbers for all of our offices on the office locations page.
Outside of office hours, public health emergencies can be reported by calling 807-468-7109 or 1-866-475-6505.
For more information on responding to adverse events, download the MOHLTC’s document Response to Adverse Drinking Water Quality Incidents.
Regulations and Set Fines
Public health inspectors will pursue enforcement actions with powers delegated to them under the Health Protection and Promotion Act O. Reg 319 Small Drinking Water Systems.