Small Drinking Water Systems

Opening or Re-opening a SWDS

Cities get their drinking water from municipal drinking water systems. Stringent regulations make sure this water is safe before people drink it. But businesses located in rural or remote areas often use Small Drinking Water Systems (SDWS) such as private wells or surface water drawn from rivers, lakes or ponds.

If your business makes drinking water available to the public, and doesn’t use a municipal water source, you may have a Small Drinking Water System (SDWS). As an owner of an SDWS, you have the legal responsibility to take steps to ensure that the water is safe to drink. Businesses with this responsibility include:

  • Restaurants
  • Hotels and motels
  • Trailer parks and campgrounds
  • Gas stations
  • Marinas
  • Places of worship
  • Recreational facilities and clubs
  • Other facilities that provide the general public with access to a washroom, drinking water fountain or shower

If you are an owner/operator of an SDWS, or think you may be the owner/operator of an SDWS, it’s important to be aware of the regulations governing the operation of SDWS. SDWS are governed by the Health Protection and Promotion Act: O. Reg 319/08 (Small Drinking Water Systems). The program is administered by local boards of health, including the Eastern Ontario Health Unit.

If you are opening a new SDWS, or re-opening a seasonal SDWS or an SDWS that has been shut down for more than 7 days:

You are legally required to notify the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) by filling out the Notice to Operate or Reopen a Small Drinking Water System form and submitting it to the EOHU using any of the following methods:

  • By email:
  • By fax: 613-933-7930
  • By mail: Eastern Ontario Health Unit, 1000 Pitt Street, Cornwall, Ontario K6J 5T1

Important note: You may not start or resume operating your SDWS until you have received written confirmation from the EOHU.

Consult the resources and links listed below for more detailed information about your legal responsibilities under the regulations.

For more information, or if you’re not sure whether your system is affected by the regulations, contact the Eastern Ontario Health Unit at 613-933-1375 or at 1-800-267-7120.