Small Drinking Water Systems

What is a Small Drinking Water System?

Does your business or premises make drinking water available to the public andPhoto of a water pouring into a glass you don’t get your drinking water from a municipal water system? You may be an owner/operator of a Small Drinking Water System (SDWS).

Examples include:

  • public facilities, such as motels, restaurants, gas stations, churches and bed and breakfasts
  • any public facility in which people have access to water.

If you are not sure whether your water system is a SDWS, call the Perth District Health Unit.

What are the responsibilities of SDWS owners and operators?

  • Owners and operators of SDWS are responsible for keeping the drinking water safe.
  • Ontario Regulation 319/08 (Small Drinking Water Systems) legally requires all owners and/or operators of SDWS to follow specific sampling requirements as outlined in your most current directive.
  • Failure to sample water as per your directive will result in a warning letter and/or the issuing of a ticket under the Regulation.
  • To check that you are sampling as required, please refer to your most current directive.

Water samples must be taken to a Private Lab: List of Licensed Labs in Ontario.

The Health Unit conducts water sampling compliance monitoring of all SDWS at least once every three months.

What happens if you have adverse water testing results?

You must take corrective action.

Adverse test results are when you are notified by the lab or by the Perth District Health Unit that “TC” (Total Coliforms) and/or “EC” (E. coli) or other parameters were found in a water sample taken from your Small Drinking Water System.

O. Reg. 319/08 states that you must report adverse water test results to the Perth District Health Unit.

After you receive an adverse test result, follow these steps – they are required by law (Under O Reg 319/08, sections 9 and 26 to 36):

  1. Immediately call the Health Unit at 519-271-7600 ext 280 or toll-free at 1-877-271-7348 ext 280, Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm. If you receive the results after hours, please call 1-800-431-2054 (After hours on-call service). Before you call, have a copy of the “Notice of Adverse Test Results and Issue Resolution” form ready. This form is in the back of the blue binder that the Health Unit provided to you, and below.
  2. On the phone, speak with a Public Health Inspector about the results and how to resolve the issue. Make sure you talk to someone. Do not leave a message.
  3. The Inspector will talk you through filling out the form.
  4. Fax, email or deliver the completed form to the Health Unit within 24 hours. Keep a copy handy because you will be adding to it and resending it after the problem is corrected (see point #7 below).
  5. Take the steps you have discussed to resolve the issue, including resampling the water.
  6. When the lab informs you of the resample results, immediately call the Health Unit to discuss the next steps.
  7. When the issue is corrected to the satisfaction of the Health Unit, fill in the “Date of Resolution” box in Section 2 (page 2) and also the “Summary of Actions Taken and Results Achieved” section on the “Notice of Adverse Test Results and Issue Resolution” form.
  8. Fax, email or deliver the form and a copy of the water test resample results to the Health Unit within 7 days of resolving the original problem.

Notice of Adverse Test Results and Issue Resolution Form

What is an on-site inspection?

The Health Unit is required to conduct routine inspections and risk assessments of SDWS:

  • at least every two years for those classified as high risk; and
  • at least every four years for those classified as moderate, low risk or posted.

Every year a SDWS Notification Memo will be mailed to you as the owner and/or operator of the SDWS. This memo is to be filled out annually or when any owner/operator information about your SDWS has changed.

If your system is due for an inspection, there will be a “Due for Inspection” colour card attached to the memo, outlining how to prepare for an on-site inspection. Once the SDWS Notification Memo form is returned, a public health inspector will follow-up with you to schedule your inspection.

Note: A new directive may be issued if the risk level of your SDWS has changed.

Training SDWS Owners/Operators

Walkerton Clean Water Centre (WCWC)

Basics for Small Drinking Water Systems (O. Reg 319/08)

  • This course reviews the basic duties and responsibilities of small drinking water system owners and operators under Ontario Regulation 319/08

Operation of Small Drinking Water Systems

  • The main purpose of the course is to help the trained person understand the basic concepts related to the operation and maintenance of small drinking water systems. The information covered in this course refers to the most common techniques used in Ontario.

Practical Training for Small Drinking Water System Owners and Operators

  • This course provides owners and operators with a realistic and practical approach to deal with issues related to source, treatment and operation of small drinking water systems.
  • Participants will gain an understanding of basic maintenance procedures for treatment equipment commonly used in small systems, and will be given an opportunity to exchange ideas with other small systems owners and operators.

For more information regarding the courses please visit the WCWC website

Ontario Water Wastewater Certification Office (OWWCO)

Limited System Certificate

  • Owners and operators with a small drinking water system that has greater than 10 connections in the distribution may be directed by a public health inspector to obtain this certificate.

For more information regarding the certificate please visit the OWWCO website

For More Information

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care: Small Drinking Water Systems