What is a Small Drinking Water System?

Does your business or premises make drinking water available to the public and you don’t get your drinking water from a municipal water system? You may be an owner or operator of a Small Drinking Water System.

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 Small Drinking Water System, call the Perth District Health Unit.

What are the responsibilities of Small Drinking Water System owners and operators?

  • Owners and operators are responsible for keeping the drinking water safe.
  • Ontario Regulation 319/08 (Small Drinking Water Systems) legally requires all owners and operators of Small Drinking Water Systems 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. The Health Unit conducts water sampling compliance monitoring of all Small Drinking Water Systems 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 Total Coliforms (TC) and, or E. coli (EC) or other parameters were found in a water sample taken from your Small Drinking Water System.

Ontario Regulation 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 Ontario Regulation 319/08, sections nine and 26 to 36):

  1. Immediately call the Health Unit at 519-271-7600 or toll-free at 1-877-271-7348 extension 280, Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. 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.
  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.
  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 on page two, in Section Two 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 seven days of resolving the original problem.

What is an on-site inspection?

The Health Unit is required to conduct routine inspections and risk assessments of Small Drinking Water Systems:

  • 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 Small Drinking Water Systems Notification Memo will be mailed to you as the owner and, or operator of the Small Drinking Water Systems. This memo is to be filled out annually or when any owner or operator information about your Small Drinking Water System 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 Small Drinking Water Systems 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 Small Drinking Water Systems has changed.

Training Small Drinking Water Systems Owners and Operators

Walkerton Clean Water Centre 

Basics for Small Drinking Water Systems (Ontario Regulation 319/08)

  • The 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.

Ontario Water Wastewater Certification Office

Limited System Certificate

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