Rules for non-municipal drinking water systems
Information for owners or operators of non-municipal year-round residential drinking water systems and those serving designated facilities.
About drinking water systems
Non-municipal drinking water systems provide water to people’s homes, such as privately-owned systems that serve apartment buildings, private subdivisions and mobile home parks. They can also provide water to a facility with a susceptible population, such as a day nursery, school or hospital.
The provincial government, through the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, regulates these systems to ensure water safety.
Types of water systems
There are two main types of non-municipal drinking water systems:
Non-municipal year-round residential
These systems supply water on a year-round basis to 6 or more private residences (e.g. apartments, condominium units, townhouses) or trailer parks with 6 or more sites with a water service connection.
Facilities that provide drinking water to people who may be more at risk to illness must follow special requirements. Designated facilities include:
- day nurseries
- schools or private schools
- health care facilities
- children and youth care facilities
- children’s camps
- delivery agent care facilities such as emergency shelters
- senior’s facilities
- social care facilities
- universities and colleges
Download the guide for designated facilities.
Every owner and operator of a drinking water system must ensure that:
- the system’s water meets Ontario’s Drinking Water Quality Standards
- anyone who operates or works on their drinking water system is properly trained and certified
- drinking water tests are done by licensed, accredited laboratories
- adverse test results are reported to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and the local medical officer of health
- and more duties found in the source law referred to below
Read the source law below for more drinking water system owner and operator responsibilities.
Key laws and regulations that apply to non-municipal drinking water system owners and operators are set out in:
- Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002
- Ontario Regulation 170/03 (drinking water systems)
- Ontario Regulation 169/03 (Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards)
- Ontario Regulation 128/04 (Certification Of Drinking Water System Operators And Water Quality Analysts)
- Ontario Regulation 243/07 (flushing, sampling and testing for lead)
How to register a drinking water system and update information
Owners and operators must register drinking water systems and keep information up to date.
For all registrations submit this form:
Unless you are receiving transported water (since the water has already been treated), you must also submit:
After you submit your registration forms, the ministry will send you an orientation letter with your drinking water system number. Once you have this number, submit this form to inform the ministry about the licensed laboratory you are using for testing:
Update your drinking water system information
Any changes to a drinking water system must be submitted within 10 days of the change.
For all updates submit this form:
If you are making changes to a drinking water system, you must also submit:
If you are adding or changing laboratories, you must also submit:
Regulatory relief or permission to split up/fragment your system
To request permission to split up/fragment your system or to obtain relief from regulatory requirements, first read the guides below and then complete and submit the application form.
Testing for lead
Non-municipal year-round residential systems
If you own or operate a non-municipal year-round residential drinking water system, you must test for lead twice a year.
Testing frequency can drop to 2 times a year every 3 years with consistent good results.
Sample collection for lead testing must be done by a qualified person who, when collecting the sample, must:
- conduct a pH test
- for distribution samples: collect a sample for alkalinity test
The sample for alkalinity testing may be sent to the lab with the sample for lead testing or tested separately by a qualified person. Depending on the specific qualifications of the person collecting the samples and conducting the pH tests, this person may or may not be qualified to conduct the alkalinity tests.
If you own or operate a system that supplies drinking water to designated facilities you must test for lead at least once every 12 months.
The frequency for testing can reduce to once every 36 months if in the most recent 24 months no lead test results exceeded the standard. Lead must be sampled from a location that is most likely to have higher lead levels (e.g. the oldest pipes).
Download the guide for designated facilities
Systems serving only a school, private school or day nursery must follow different rules for lead testing
Lead testing exemptions
Under certain conditions, systems may qualify for an exemption from lead sampling in plumbing.
Drinking water help line
For questions about:
- registering a drinking water system
- drinking water system owner and operator responsibilities
Monday to Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.