Drinking Water

Man filling a glass with water from the tap


Understanding your drinking water

Drinking water from lakes, rivers, shallow wells (dug wells) or drilled wells may contain unseen substances. While most of these substances are harmless, some may be a health risk. Compare your drinking water test results with the Guidelines for Canadian drinking water quality to see if they are within the limits set by Health Canada.

Water treatment

Drinking water should be treated if it is sourced from lakes, rivers, shallow wells (dug wells) or drilled wells with poor test results.

For information on drinking water treatment devices visit the Health Canada website.

For information on UV light treatment devices, visit our UV light information page

Drilled well disinfection instruction

Well disinfection is one way homeowners may deal with an occasional bad water result. See the disinfection instruction sheet published by the Province of Ontario for a step-by-step guide on how to disinfect a drilled well.

Testing drinking water is an important part to having safe water. Visit the Public Health Ontario website for information on:

  • Drinking water safety
  • Testing drinking water for bacteria
  • Getting your drinking water test results
  • Understanding water test results
  • What to do if you have bad test results

For information on private water sample submission and the Health Unit water testing schedule, please see our Drinking water sample details / Collecte et envoi d’échantillons d’eau potable

Walkerton Clean Water Centre (hands-on training) NORTH BAY

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

February 28, 2019

Time: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (coffee and lunch provided)

Location: Holiday Inn Express
1325 Seymour St
Click Here for Map of Location

Cost: $203.00 + $26.39 HST = $229.39 CAD


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

Participants will learn about the different characteristics of drinking water sources, multi-step approach to treatment and maintenance of system equipment. This session will also review proper monitoring, sampling techniques and responding to water quality issues.

By the end of this session, participants will have gained an understanding of:
• Small drinking water system duties and responsibilities
• Multi Barrier treatment equipment used in small systems
• Operational and maintenance checks for the treatment and system equipment
• Knowledge of distribution and storage systems maintenance
• Responding to potential drinking water quality issues

Small Drinking Water Systems

If your business or premise 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 (SDWS).

As of December 2008, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) has oversight of small drinking water systems (SDWS) in Ontario under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, Ontario Regulation 319/08 (Small Drinking Water Systems).

Some examples of small drinking water systems would be, but not limited to, trailer parks, campgrounds, sit down restaurants, hotels, motels, places of worship, gas stations, recreational facilities, clubs or fraternal organizations, or other facilities that provide the general public with access to a washroom, drinking water fountain or shower.

What is a small drinking water system directive?

A “Directive” is a document that outlines the operational requirements that must be carried out by the owner or operator of a SDWS. It is issued on completion of a site specific risk assessment conducted by a Public Health Inspector. Since there are many types of SDWS, the Public Health Inspector will conduct a site specific risk assessment of the SDWS to determine potential risks to users associated with the operation of the SDWS. This is done by using a risk categorization tool (RCat) to identify and assess potential risks to users and by applying a multi-barrier approach to determine any potential risk that may affect the safety of the drinking water if left uncorrected.

At the end of the risk assessment, the SDWS will be assigned one of the following risk categories for the system as a whole:

  • high=significant risk
  • moderate=medium level risk
  • low=negligible level of risk 

What may be some requirements or actions that may be included in a directive?

  • The need for primary, secondary treatment, other treatment equipment
  • Water sampling and testing frequency, location and method
  • The types of samples to be taken
  • Record maintenance
  • Posting warning signs
  • Operational checks
  • Appropriate training for owners/operators

What if I do not agree with the requirements issued in a directive?

If you do not agree with the requirements issued in your directive or an amendment to your directive, you have seven days to request a review by the local Medical Officer of Health (MOH). When requesting a review you must include the following:

  1. a.       The portions of the directive or amendment to the directive that you want to be reviewed
  2. b.      Any submission that you would like the MOH to consider in the review
  3. c.       A current mailing address so that the MOH can provide you with the decision in respect to the review.

If ownership of a SDWS changes, what happens to the directive?

If there ls a change in ownership of the SDWS, the directive is site specific and therefore it belongs to the site and remains in effect. It is best to contact the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit at 705-474-1400 x 5400 and advise that there is a change in ownership.

If you should have any questions do not hesitate to talk to a Public Health Inspector at 705-474-1400 x 5400.

You may also find additional information on the following websites:

Ontario Regulation 319/08: www.ontario.ca/laws/regulations/o80319

Current list of licensed laboratories: www.ontario.ca/page/list-licensed-laboratories

Safe drinking water in child care centres and cchools

In an effort to better protect children and youth, the Ontario Regulation 243/07, Schools, Private Schools and Child Care Centres made under the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002 was improved in 2017. The changes include testing the water of all faucets in a school or child care centre (where water is drawn for drinking). Schools and child care centres are implementing this change gradually until 2020.

More information:

Fact sheet for parents / Fiche d’information à l’intention des parents

Flushing your plumbing / Vidanger votre installation de plomberie

Water Advisories

If a problem with your water is detected, you will receive a boil water advisory. To use water safely during an advisory, follow the advice in the guidelines and commonly asked questions:


Guidelines for food establishments during a boil water advisory

Guidelines for dental offices during a boil water advisory

Guidelines for child care centres during a boil water advisory

Commonly asked questions

Commonly asked questions about boil water advisories

Commonly asked questions about drinking water advisories

Boil water advisory signs

Boil water advisory sign /  Avis de faire bouillir l’eau




North Bay
Parry Sound
Burk's Falls

345 Oak Street West


70 Joseph Street Unit #302


17 Copeland Street (by appointment only)