Community

York’s drinking water ‘safe, clean, affordable’

York Region residents can enjoy drinking tap water with confidence after more than 17,000 laboratory samples analyzed last year earned perfect scores in Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks drinking water system inspections.

“York Region’s top scores over the last five years demonstrate our leadership and commitment to community health and well-being,” says York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson. “It is incredibly important we continue investing in maintaining and improving these systems to manage growth in our communities, enhance the existing system and meet regulatory requirements.”

The Region operates and maintains $2.7 billion in water assets. Last year, it invested $65 million installing, repairing or replacing equipment used to treat, store and deliver safe drinking water. It has budgeted $563 million for water system rehabilitation and replacement over the next decade, including groundwater treatment upgrades supporting the continued delivery of high-quality drinking water.

The Ministry regulates municipal drinking water systems in Ontario. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002, York Region reports annually on quality and quantity of drinking water produced. The Act was developed to address factors that led to the Walkerton tragedy in 2000, the country’s worst-ever outbreak of E. coli contamination. Seven people died and another 2,300 people fell ill after the town’s municipal water supply was contaminated with E. coli bacteria after manure washed into a groundwater well. Walkerton had a population of less than 5,000 at the time.

“York Region executes a robust and rigorous approach to protect drinking water, including source water protection, operator training, water treatment, extensive monitoring and testing, as well as emergency preparedness and regular communication with local cities and towns,” the Region reports.

York’s annual 2023 Drinking Water Systems Report includes Ministry inspection results from both the 2023 calendar year and the 2022 to 2023 fiscal year for the Ontario Chief Drinking Water Inspector’s Report.

In 2023, 17,309 water quality tests were performed on York’s drinking water systems as part of Ministry inspections, and all were within regulated limits and standards. The 2022 to 2023 Chief Drinking Water Inspector’s Report also showed an overall compliance rating of 99.98 per cent in the samples. One adverse sample in 2022 led to not receiving a perfect score; however, resample results confirmed effective disinfection and no risk to public health or safety, the Region notes.

Water in York Region is delivered through a two-tiered water system. The Region operates and maintains 15 drinking water supply systems, providing water to all nine local cities and towns. In turn, cities and towns are responsible for designing, constructing, operating and maintaining their distribution systems to deliver high quality water to residents and businesses.

“Keeping water safe is a 24/7 job. With efforts from York Region, local cities and towns and our neighbouring municipalities, our drinking water continues to be safe, clean and affordable,” says City of Richmond Hill Mayor and Chair of Public Works – Environmental Services David West. “Residents can rest assured they can trust high-quality water from their taps that consistently meets rigorous standards year after year.”

Details of York Region water systems and drinking water quality can be viewed through the online reporting tool at york.ca/DrinkingWater.

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