May 8, 2006

Ont chief drinking water inspector confirms safety, quality of supply

The first annual report from Ontario's Chief Drinking Water Inspector, Jim Smith, has confirmed that overall, the province's drinking water is safe and of very high quality. Building on information contained in a progress report issued in May 2005, the report covers the period between April 1, 2004 and March 31, 2005. It details the quality of water provided by drinking water systems and the inspection program for municipal residential drinking water systems.

Water quality results show that systems are providing high-quality drinking water. For municipal residential drinking water systems, 99.74% of all tests performed in 2004-2005 met Ontario's drinking water standards. More than 850,000 microbiological and chemical tests were conducted. Other main findings reported are as follows.

*99.06% of water quality tests submitted by systems serving designated facilities which include schools, health care facilities and children's camps met Ontario drinking water standards. More than 160,000 microbiological and chemical tests were conducted.

*99.41% of water quality tests submitted by non-municipal year round residential systems met Ontario drinking water standards. These systems serve private subdivisions, condominium or townhouse complexes, apartment buildings, mobile home parks, as well as year round cottage developments and trailer parks. More than 62,000 microbiological and chemical tests were conducted.

*All of Ontario's licensed drinking water testing laboratories were subject to at least one planned and one unannounced inspection.

The report also documents the results of the Ministry's inspection program for municipal residential drinking water systems. These systems serve more than 82% of Ontario residents. Ministry of Environment officials inspected 729 municipal residential drinking water systems, assessing them against more than 130 regulatory requirements.

Seventy-seven of the municipal residential drinking water systems received orders. This does not necessarily mean that drinking water is unsafe. Orders are also issued to correct situations where there is no direct threat to human health, for example, errors in administrative procedures.

The report introduces a proposed method of assessing municipal residential drinking water system inspection results to provide a comparative measure for future performance. The Chief Drinking Water Inspector will consult with municipalities and other stakeholders on the proposed methodology for measuring inspection results.

The Chief Drinking Water Inspector's report is available on-line at www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/techdocs/#drinkingwater.

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