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Protecting Your Drinking Water

The Ontario Municipal Water Association (OMWA) is the united voice of publicly owned water systems in the province, and is dedicated to protecting the safety, reliability and quality of drinking water for Ontario residents.

OMWA’s approximately 180 municipal members serve the drinking water needs of more than seven million people throughout the province.

The Association represents the views and concerns of its members to the Government of Ontario. It defends continued public ownership and control of drinking water resources, supports local accountability, and promotes full-cost recovery and sustainable investment in infrastructure (see First Principles, below).

Because its membership is composed of municipal water authorities, service boards, boards of management, and other authorities appointed to direct and operate publicly owned water systems, OMWA speaks with the authority of experience and has earned the respect of policy-makers. It is frequently invited by provincial ministries and agencies to provide advice and recommendations on a range of drinking water issues. Its submissions to the Walkerton Inquiry, for example, were singled out by Mr. Justice Dennis O’Connor for their “singularly high quality” of work.

Established in 1967, OMWA also plays a vital educational role, disseminating guidelines on good practices and sponsoring information sessions, workshops, publications, and conferences. It assists in the professional development of those who have oversight and control of drinking water systems, providing legislative interpretation, technical information, and technology updates.

Safe, reliable, quality drinking water. That’s what the people of Ontario expect, and what the OMWA is committed to providing – now and into the future. Our background and core principles are on our mission page.

First Principles

The OMWA endorses and promotes the following First Principles for the management and operation of Ontario’s drinking water systems:

  1. Public Ownership
    Our water is not just another commodity, but rather a precious resource that demands the highest standards of stewardship. Public ownership and control of water must be maintained, and enshrined in legislation, to ensure our continued sovereignty over this essential service.
    There is a role for the private sector in terms of expertise and management, but Ontario’s water and water infrastructure must not become the property of corporations.
  2. Local Accountability
    Water issues (safety, quality, rates, system upgrades) directly affect local residents, and therefore those who manage and operate the water systems must be locally based and locally accountable.
  3. Sustainability
    Water systems must be operated on a full-cost recovery basis so that infrastructure can be upgraded and future generations can have a safe, reliable source of quality drinking water. As well, municipalities must strive to capture natural efficiencies through integration of systems where it makes economic sense.
  4. Affordability
    Water must remain affordable, and the OMWA is therefore opposed to any restructuring that would result in added bureaucracy, downloading of costs to local residents, and/or requiring efficient water systems to subsidize inefficient systems.
  5. Coordination
    All water issues must be coordinated, with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment acting as the lead, in order to ensure that the fragmentation of policy and accountability which contributed to the Walkerton tragedy can never happen again.
  6. Standards
    Ontario’s water systems must meet performance standards, as well as operating-expertise benchmarks.
  7. Nominal-Interest Loans
    Municipalities must have access to nominal-interest loans from the federal/provincial governments to help fund infrastructure expansion and improvement programs.
  8. Financial Transparency
    The true costs of operating and maintaining the assets must be disclosed (no cross-subsidization), and revenue from user rates must be dedicated solely to these systems.
  9. Meaningful Public Input
    There must be a free exchange of information between all parties involved with drinking water in the province.

Benefits of Membership

  • An organization that represents municipalities and water authorities across Ontario
  • A single, strong voice on issues of drinking water safety, reliability and quality
  • An association respected by government, able to influence policy and communicate effectively to the media and public
  • Technical information, technology updates, and best practices
  • Support and assistance with respect to regulatory requirements
  • A Career Section on the OMWA website where member municipalities can advertise employment opportunities, and a service which e-mails each employment posting to members
  • Membership in the OMWA automatically includes membership in the appropriate Region (Eastern, Western or Northern)
  • Annual conference, held jointly with the OWWA
  • Regional annual meetings
  • Members’ Handbook – lists all members and their contact information, as well as contact information for Ministry of the Environment staff involved with drinking water issues
  • Councillors Handbook – provides Councillors and non-technical municipal officials with a basic understanding of public water processes and administrative practices and their stewardship responsibilities under the Safe Drinking Water Act
  • Ontario Pipeline – joint newsletter of OMWA, OWWA and OWWEA
  • Newswire sent to your email inbox twice a week; an up-to-date digest of water-related news, events, issues and technologies from around the province, the country and the world.

Media Contact Information

Ed Houghton
Executive Director, OMWA
2593 Tenth Concession
Collingwood, ON L9Y 3Y9
Telephone: 705-443-8472

Mike Mortimer
President, OMWA
Regional Manager-Conveyance Services Group
Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA)
Mobile: 647-391-9295

For other OMWA contacts, please see the board page and the contacts page.

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