Local Drinking Water Systems Charged

Written by Comms Team, December 8, 2022

Water samples not submitted at the required frequency

Over the past month, three Small Drinking Water Systems (SDWS) in Peterborough County were charged by Peterborough Public Health (PPH) for failing to submit water samples at the required frequency. These SDWS are public facilities where the water source is a private well and not a municipal drinking water system. Testing is very important to ensure the public served by this water are safe.

There are 355 SDWS in Peterborough County. They include restaurants, motels, churches, resorts, seasonal trailer parks, and other public facilities. Each of these SDWS is required to test their water to ensure that it is safe for the public. Depending on the risk level of the SDWS, the operator is required to sample and test the water anywhere from once every two weeks to once every three months. If the operator of the SDWS exceeds the maximum interval allowed between samples, they are non-compliant with the regulation and may be charged. Charging operators is a last resort after all efforts to educate and support have been made.

The names of the businesses involved will not be publicly disclosed until a conviction is confirmed by the courts or there is an immediate threat to public safety.

“Regular testing of drinking water is a critical step in the safe operation of a drinking water system,” said Chris Eaton, Public Health Inspector. “By testing the water, it is confirmed that bacteria are not present in the well and/or that the treatment system did its job,” Eaton adds. “In addition to checking that water is sampled regularly, we check that the treatment system is appropriate for the water source, that it is properly maintained, records are kept, and operators are properly trained.”

SDWS are required to submit water samples to accredited private labs. After processing the sample, the lab enters the test result into a database which PPH can access to monitor the sampling of all SDWS in Peterborough. SDWS are issued a warning if they do not meet their sampling obligations. Repeated non-compliance can result in charges being laid.

Additionally, if the water test is adverse (contains bacteria), the lab immediately notifies the operator of the SDWS as well as PPH. The operator of the SDWS is then required to contact PPH to discuss corrective actions. These may include posting warning signs, repairing the treatment system, disinfecting the system, and/or resampling the water. These strict procedures came about as a result of the events of Walkerton, Ontario, where in the year 2000, half of the population of the town became ill and seven people died from drinking contaminated water.

To find more information about Small Drinking Water Systems, please visit: www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca and search for “Small Drinking Water Systems”.


For media inquiries, please contact:

Sarah Gill
A/ Communications Manager
705-743-1000 ext. 352