Ontario - 2012 Policy Information  Ontario Shield

The province of Ontario is diverse in geography, water sources and demographics. The vast majority of the population resides within the Great Lakes Basin in the southern portion of the province. The large urban centers rely primarily on the Lakes Erie, Ontario and Huron for their water supply, however there are numerous communities reliant on groundwater, major rivers, and other lakes. The Province has a complex, advanced regulatory framework for water in comparison to the other provinces, largely stemming from the needs and impacts of urban growth and past drinking-water quality challenges such as in Walkerton (in May 2000, several serious flaws in the Walkerton, Ont., municipal drinking water system aligned to permit a breakthrough of E. coli O157:H7 and Campylobacter bacteria, causing seven deaths and more than 2,300 cases of waterborne disease).  In 2010 the Province passed Ontario’s Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act that established priorities for: making “Ontario the North American leader in the development and sale of water conservation and treatment technologies, encouraging sustainable infrastructure and conservation planning using made-in-Ontario technologies to solve water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure challenges; and encouraging all Ontarians to use water more wisely.”

Use the links below to jump to a specific question:

Q1. Agencies  Q9. Permitting  Q17. Technical Assistance 
Q2. Toilet Regulations    Q10. Drought Plans  Q18. Volumetric Billing   
Q3. Showerhead Regulations  Q11. Conservation Plans  Q19. Metered Connections  
Q4. Urinal Regulations  Q12. Authority to Approve Plans  Q20. ET Microclimate Information   
Q5. Clothes Washer Regulations  Q13. Plan Update Frequency  Q21. Efficiency Strategy 
Q6. PRSV Regulations  Q14. Planning Framework  Q22. Alternative Sources 
Q7. Building or Plumbing Codes  Q15. Implementation Requirements  Additional Information 
Q8. Water Loss  Q16. Funding for Conservation   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



  1. What provincial ministry, department or agencies are in charge of drinking water conservation/efficiency?

    The Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE)
     
     
  2. Does the province have a water consumption regulation for toilets that is more stringent than the federal standard?  

    Neither the federal nor Ontario governments have a regulation for toilets at the point of sale.
     
    Ontario’s current building code requirements for toilets are equivalent to the National Plumbing Code standards (refer to question 7). However, Ontario’s Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act includes an amendment to the Ontario Water Resources Act requiring appliances and products to meet efficiency standards prescribed by the regulations. This enables water efficiency standards at the point of sale to be implemented in Ontario through regulation at some future time. However, regulations have not yet been developed and these requirements are therefore not in force.

    Although provincial building and plumbing codes can require water efficiency standards in new construction and renovations, and mandates minimum efficiency standards for energy consuming products, there is to date no federal regulation for mandating the water efficiency of toilets at the point of sale.

     
  3. Does the province have a water consumption regulation for showerheads that is more stringent than the federal standard? 

    Neither the federal nor Ontario governments have a regulation for showerheads at the point of sale.
     
    Ontario’s current building code requirements for showerheads are equivalent to the National Plumbing Code standards (refer to question 7).
    However, Ontario’s Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act includes an amendment to the Ontario Water Resources Act requiring appliances and products to meet efficiency standards prescribed by the regulations. This enables water efficiency standards at the point of sale to be implemented in Ontario through regulation at some future time. However, regulations have not yet been developed and these requirements are therefore not in force.

    Although provincial building and plumbing codes can require water efficiency standards in new construction and renovations, there is to date no federal regulation for mandating the water consumption/efficiency of toilets at the point of sale.
     
     
  4. Does the province have a water consumption regulation for urinals that is more stringent than the federal standard?

    Neither the federal nor Ontario governments have a regulation for urinals at the point of sale.
     
    Ontario’s current building code requirements for urinal are equivalent to the National Plumbing Code standards (refer to question 7).
    However, Ontario’s Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act includes an amendment to the Ontario Water Resources Act requiring appliances and products to meet efficiency standards prescribed by the regulations. This enables water efficiency standards at the point of sale to be implemented in Ontario through regulation at some future time. However, regulations have not yet been developed and these requirements are therefore not in force.

    Although provincial building and plumbing codes can require water efficiency standards in new construction and renovations, there is to date no federal regulation for mandating the water consumption/efficiency of fixtures at the point of sale.
      
     
  5. Does the province have a water consumption regulation for clothes washers that is more stringent than the federal standard? 

    No.

    However, Ontario’s Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act includes an amendment to the Ontario Water Resources Act requiring appliances and products to meet efficiency standards prescribed by the regulations. This enables water efficiency standards at the point of sale to be implemented in Ontario through regulation at some future time. However, regulations have not yet been developed and these requirements are therefore not in force.

    Minimum water efficiency standards for commercial and residential clothes washers are established through Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations, limiting the Minimum Modified Energy Factor to greater than 35.68 L/kwh/cycle for capacity > 45 Land to greater than 18.4 L/kWh/cycle for capacities < 45 L.

     
  6. Does the province have a water consumption regulation for pre-rinse spray valves that is more stringent than the federal standard?  

    No.

    However, Ontario’s Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act includes an amendment to the Ontario Water Resources Act requiring appliances and products to meet efficiency standards prescribed by the regulations. This enables water efficiency standards at the point of sale to be implemented in Ontario through regulation at some future time. However, regulations have not yet been developed and these requirements are therefore not in force.

    Minimum water efficiency standards for pre-rinse spray valves are established through Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations, limiting the flow rate to less than 6.1 litres per minute at 60 Psi water pressure as of January 1, 2012.

     
  7. Does the province have mandatory building or plumbing codes requiring water efficient products that exceed the federal standard? 

    No, but changes are pending.

    Although the Ontario Building Code (OBC) has historically been more stringent than the national requirement, recent changes to CSA Standards B45 and B125 that are referenced in the National Model Plumbing Code now align with OBC’s water efficiency requirements (see Additional Information below). A water efficiency section adopted in the OBC set the following limits for plumbing fixtures in new construction beginning in January 1996 - maximum flush volume for toilets of 6 litres, maximum flow rate for showerheads of 9.5 Lpm, and maximum flow rate for faucets of 8.35 Lpm.

    However, in 2010, the water efficiency provisions in the OBC were reviewed and proposed amendments for public comment would reduce the maximum flush volumes for toilets in residential occupancies to 4.8 litres, maximum flush volumes for urinals to 1.9 litres per flush in residential occupancies, and maximum flow rate for showerheads to 7.6 Lpm in residential occupancies which would indeed go beyond national model codes. The proposed revisions would also establish clear definitions for rainwater and greywater and enable the use of rainwater for laundry and mean the code would exceed the standards in  the National Plumbing Code.

    The National Building and Plumbing Codes of Canada are the model codes. They are issued by the Institute for Research and Construction (IRC), a part of the National Research Council of Canada. As model codes, they have no legal status until it is adopted by a jurisdiction that regulates construction. The Provinces and Territories of Canada are allowed to adopt parts or all of the code and to alter the code as they see fit.

    As of 2010 the National Plumbing Code does not explicitly mandate the use of water efficient fixtures – instead it references the CSA B45 standards that dictate maximum flush volumes for toilets of 6 litres and 3.8 Lpf for urinals and CSA B125 that dictates maximum flow rates of 8.3 Lpm for residential lavatory and kitchen faucets, 1.9 Lpm for public (non residential bathrooms that are exposed to walk-in traffic) lavatory faucets, 9.5 Lpm for showerheads, and 6 Lpm for commercial pre-rinse spray valves. Specifically, the National Plumbing Code permits rainwater (referred to as storm sewage in the code) or greywater that is free of solids to be used for the flushing of toilets, urinals, directly connected. 
      
  8. Does the province have any regulations or policies for water utilities regarding water loss in the utility distribution system?  

    No.

     
  9. Does the province require conservation activities as part of its water permitting process or water right permit?

    No, but it is a consideration.

    The Water Taking Regulation requires the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) to consider conservation efforts in the decision to grant a permit to take water. The Permit to Take Water program requires new applicants to identify the conservation efforts they are undertaking or will undertake under the proposed permit. The MOE director takes the adequacy of conservation measures in accordance with best water management standards and practices for the relevant sector into consideration when assessing water taking applications. 

    Ontario Water Resources Act (1990) – The purpose of the OWRA is to provide for the conservation, protection, and management of Ontario’s waters in order to promote Ontario’s long-term environmental, social, and economic well-being. The Water Taking Regulation and Permit to Take Water (PTTW) program requires any person taking more than 50,000 litres of water per day to first obtain a Permit to Take Water. As of 2008, permit holders are required to collect and record data on the volumes of water taken daily and report these “actual” water takings to the Ministry of the Environment each year. Permits for new and expanded water takings that remove water from the watershed, as specified in the regulation, are prohibited in those tertiary watersheds classified as “high use.” Maps of high and medium use watersheds are available on-line at www.ene.gov.on.ca. Water transfers out of a water basin are prohibited under the regulation.

      
  10. Does the province require preparation of drought emergency plans by water utilities or cities on any prescribed schedule?  

    No.

    Ontario’s Low Water Response program requires local watershed committees to be established to address drought conditions when water levels are impacted. If a low water level is declared for a watershed or part of watershed, Water Response Teams will decide on an appropriate response.  For example, all permit holders for water takings in that watershed may be voluntarily encouraged to achieve water use reduction targets of 10-20%.  Other measures and conservation practices may be initiated.
     
     
  11. Does the province have a mandatory planning requirement for potable water conservation/efficiency separate from drought emergency plans?   

    Yes.

    The Ontario Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act (2010) will require, via regulation, municipal service providers to prepare municipal water sustainability plans, including a water conservation plan. The Act will also require via regulation public agencies to prepare water conservation plans (e.g. ministries, municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals) documenting annual water use and proposed conservation measures for each of the agency’s prescribed operations (e.g. public recreation facilities, office buildings, etc.).  However, regulations have not yet been developed and these requirements are therefore not yet in force.

    The Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (ORMCP) requires that every upper-tier municipality and single-tier municipality begin preparing a water budget and conservation plan for every watershed whose streams originate within the municipality’s area of jurisdiction (section 25(1)). As of April 22, 2007, major development in these municipalities will only be permitted if a water budget and water conservation plan have been prepared in accordance with the ORMCP by the approval authority.

    The Lake Simcoe Protection Plan (2009) requires that municipalities in the Lake Simcoe watershed prepare and implement water conservation plans.

    The Clean Water Act (2006) encourages water conservation as part of source protection planning. Source protection committees assess risks to the drinking water source through development of water budgets. If significant threats to water quantity are identified as a risk, the source protection plan must include policies to address that risk, such as water conservation policies.

     
  12. Does the province have the authority to approve or reject the conservation plans? 

    Yes, for municipal water service providers.

    Through the Ontario Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act (2010) , the Minister of the Environment may review and evaluate the performance of a municipal service in comparison to performance indicators. In addition, if a regulated entity (e.g. municipality) fails to achieve a target established by the Minister, the Minister may request additional information or a report on proposed strategies to meet the targets.

    The province does not, however, have the authority to approve or reject the water conservation plans of public agencies.

    The Clean Water Act  requires ministry approval of source protection plans that are required to address threats to water quantity and quality.
      
  13. How often does the province require the water utilities to submit a potable water conservation plan (not part of a drought emergency plan)? 

    Undetermined, regulations not yet in force.

     
  14. If the province has a mandatory planning requirement for potable water conservation separate from drought emergency plans, is there a framework or prescribed methodology?

    No.
     
      
  15. Does the province require water utilities to implement conservation measures, beyond just the preparation and submittal of plans? 

    Yes.

    The Ontario Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act (2010) requires both municipal water service providers and public agencies to implement the water conservation plans. The Act also enables the requirement, through regulation, of public agencies to consider water efficient technologies and services when acquiring goods and services and making capital investments.

     
  16. Does the province offer financial assistance to utilities, cities, or counties for urban water conservation programs such as a revolving loan fund? Grants? Bonds? Appropriations?  Bonds?  Appropriations?

    No, not directly.

    Showcasing Water Innovation is the province’s program to fund leading edge, innovative and cost-effective solutions for managing drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems in Ontario communities. The first round of projects have yet to be announced, but this funding is not dedicated to water conservation.

    Ontario Drinking Water Stewardship Program Special Projects grants provides grants for water conservation programs that help to protect drinking water sources.

    Canada does not have a revolving fund for infrastructure loans. Federally, the Green Municipal Fund (GMF) administered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) provides grants for up to 50% of project costs, or below-market, low interest loans of up to 80% of project costs. FCM is an advocacy organization; however the Government of Canada endowed the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) with $550 million to establish the GMF program. The GMF funds municipal projects and studies, which have included feasibility studies of water conservation programs, water distribution system leak detection and control projects, plumbing retrofit programs, wastewater recycling, and sustainable community plans involving water conservation. In 2011, water conservation projects that reduce water use by more than 20% are a funding focus.

    The Building Canada plan is the primary mechanism in Canada for funding water and wastewater infrastructure, and encompasses a number of funds including provincial and municipal base funding, gas tax funds, and the Building Canada fund. Over half of the funding under the Building Canada plan is provided as base funding to municipalities, and the funds are generally administered by the provinces. The Building Canada fund promotes long-term funding of water infrastructure projects, including projects designed to improve conservation of water. Funding focuses on improved treatment standards that emphasize the protection of human health. The projects are required to be supported by measures that improve the management of sources of drinking water, reduce demands, and improve the management of drinking water infrastructure.

    All projects are cost shared, generally in equal thirds between federal/provincial/municipal governments. 
    The Building Canada fund operates through two components: the Major Infrastructure Component (MIC) that targets large strategic projects of national and regional significance, and the Communities Component that focuses on projects in communities with populations of less than 100,000. 

    To date, funded projects have focused on centralized infrastructure as opposed to conservation efforts, with the exception of metering. Capital cost funding projects must result in a tangible capital asset. Planning costs are also eligible, which could potentially support the development of water conservation plans.
      
  17. Does the province offer technical assistance for urban water conservation programs? 

    Yes.

    MOE provided funding for the development of technical report on water and energy including the release of a WaterSmart Scenario Builder.

    MOE provided funding for the 2008 Ontario Water Works Association Outdoor Water Use Reduction Manual.

    Green Tips for Water Conservation around the home and in industry

      
  18. Does the province require volumetric billing?

    No
     
      
  19. What percentage or number of publicly supplied water connections (residential and nonresidential) are metered in your province?

    94.5% residential and 97.3% commercial

    Municipal Water Use 2009 Summary Tables 

     
  20. Does the province provide ET microclimate information for urban landscapes? 

    No 

     
  21. Does the province have a water conservation and efficiency strategy?

    Yes, in legislative form.

    The province initiated a formal consultation in preparation for developing a Water Conservation Strategy. The strategy was adopted into law in 2010 as the Ontario Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act.   

     
  22. Does the province have standards for alternative water sources?

    No.

    Guidelines for Rainwater Harvesting were prepared by a rainwater harvesting task group including government and industry representatives, however this guideline is not an official Province of Ontario document.

    Ontario Guidelines for Residential Rainwater Harvesting Systems


    Additional Information:
     

    Maas, Carol (2009) Greenhouse Gas and Energy Co-Benefits of Water Conservation 

    Ontario (2009) Water Conservation-and-Efficiency Program Report

    CWWA (2009) Water Conservation and Efficiency Performance Measures and Benchmarks within the Municipal Sector

    Town of East Gwillimbury Ontario, Canada - Water and Wastewater Conservation Strategy

    SPPB (2009) RFP-Special-Projects

    Gibbon, W (2008) Who uses water-saving fixtures in the home - Canada

    Environment Canada (2011) 2009 Municipal Water Use Statistics

    Environment Canada (2011) Municipal Water Pricing Report

    Veritec (2008) Region of Durham Efficient Community Final Report