In the Town of Orangeville, the source of our drinking water is groundwater. In order to ensure that our water source is safe and sustainable, we need to protect it. Review the Source Protection Plan to learn about the policies that are in place to protect the quality and quantity of out drinking water sources.

Where does Orangeville's drinking water come from?

The Town relies on 12 wells to supply groundwater for us to drink. Groundwater comes from rain or snow that seeps below the ground's surface and pools in the cracks and spaces in the soil, sand and rock. These underground sources of water are known as aquifers. Protecting our drinking water aquifers from pollution makes it easier and less expensive to treat water before delivering it to our taps.

 A graphic demonstrating the levels of the aquifer

Application and guidelines

If your property is located in a vulnerable area, you may require a Risk Management Plan or additional approvals to perform certain activities on your property. Review our source protection applications and guidelines for more information.

 Vulnerable Areas

 The area around a municipal well is identified as a source protection vulnerable area. Vulnerable areas supply water to our municipal wells. Everyone must use extra care when undertaking activities in these areas because it could directly impact the quality and long-term availability of our drinking water.


 Is my property in a vulnerable area?

 Use our interactive map to find out if your property is in one of the vulnerable areas.



 What steps should I take?


If your property is in a vulnerable area and you are conducting an activity identified as a drinking water threat, you may be required to develop a Risk Management Plan.

If you are submitting a planning or building permit application for a property in a vulnerable area, you must get additional approvals before proceeding with your application submission. Review our source protection applications and guidelines for more information.

 Wellhead protection areas

 There are two key types of vulnerable areas in Orangeville:


Wellhead protection areas for quality

A wellhead protection area (WHPA) for quality is the area around the well where land use activities have the potential to affect the quality of water that flows into the well.

View our wellhead protection quality map to identify some of the vulnerable areas:Wellhead Protection Areas for quality map

  • WHPA-A represents the 100 m radius area the well
  • WHPA-B represents a two-year travel time for water to reach the well
  • WHPA-C represents a five-year travel time for water to reach the well
  • WHPA-D represents a 25-year travel time for water to reach the well
  • WHPA-E represents the area where surface water pathways may influence groundwater at the well

An Issue Contributing Area (ICA) represents an area that supplies water to a well with an identified issue. A well has an issue when it shows an increasing trend of a contaminant. Orangeville has three sodium and chloride issue contributing areas due to increasing concentrations of sodium and chloride at several wells.  Although the water is safe to drink, management measures are being put in place to reverse the rising trend.

Wellhead protection areas for quantity

A wellhead protection area for quantityWellhead Protection Areas for quantity map (WHPA-Q1/Q2) represents the area where 

groundwater use and reductions in groundwater recharge rates could affect the quantity of water available in municipal wells. The WHPA- Q1/Q2 is delineated to protect the quantity of water required by the Town to meet both current and future water supply needs.


View our wellhead protection area for quantity map to identify these areas.

Why protecting our water matters

Imagine just one day without access to clean drinking water. When we do not actively work to protect our sources of drinking water, we move towards losing it. We all play a role in protecting these sources. 

Drinking Water Threats

Activities that are, or could be, significant threats to a municipal drinking water source are managed or removed by the source water protection plan. 


Significant Threats pose the greatest risk to a municipal drinking water supply. Significant threats are:

1. Located in a vulnerable area, usually close to a well or intake.

2. Involve materials that have a high hazard rating

A material's hazard rating depends on these factors:

  • Toxicity: how dangerous it is to human health.
  • Environmental fate: how quickly it moves through an aquifer and how quickly it may break down and become harmless.
  • Quantity: how much is involved. 
  • Release to the environment: how easily it can get into the environment. 
  • Type of vulnerable area: where the activity is or would be located within a vulnerable area.


Chemical storage and handling

Many individuals and businesses use chemicals on a daily basis. It is important to ensure that chemicals are always handled, stored and disposed of responsibly so that they don't impact the drinking water supply in the Town of Orangeville.

Storing chemicals

You can prevent harmful chemical spills and leaks by practicing proper storage techniques:

  • store chemicals in sealed containers with secure lids
  • place containers on spill containment pallets
  • designate a safe storage area
  • ensure there is secondary containment around all containers to catch spills

You should also have a spill kit on site and train employees on how to safely clean a chemical spill.

Disposing of chemicals

If you use a hazardous chemical product, it is important that you dispose of the chemical safely so that it doesn't contaminate our drinking water. You should always use a local hazardous waste disposal site for safe disposal.

Make sure you don't dispose of hazardous liquids into:

  • floor drains
  • storm drains
  • toilets
  • sinks
  • recycling or garbage bins
  • municipal landfills

Finding alternatives

You can avoid or minimize the use of hazardous chemicals by choosing alternative products that are naturally occurring or water based. When selecting a product, you should:

  • read the label and select products that don't have hazard warnings
  • choose water-based detergent cleaners for the removal of dirt or grease on mechanical equipment or parts
  • choose solvents that are not made from petroleum
  • consider vinegar-based cleaners
  • if an alternative can't be found, only use the necessary amount

Harmful chemicals and products

Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPLs) are a special class of chemicals that are particularly hazardous to our health and drinking water sources. These chemicals can sink into and contaminate ground water systems even with a minor spill.

Types of DNAPLs include:

  • paints, stains and coatings
  • paint removers or strippers
  • wood treatment products
  • spot removers and rug cleaners
  • adhesives
  • batteries
  • printing inks
  • cleaning and degreasing products
  • pesticides


Fertilizer provides nutrients for plant growth. However, when it is used in excess or applied incorrectly, it can harm the quality of our drinking water sources. Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are the two key components of fertilizer that can lead to pollution of local water resources.

Applying fertilizer

In order to limit the environmental impact of fertilizer, it is important that you apply fertilizer correctly. You should:

  • only apply fertilizer in the spring to help with plant growth
  • avoid applying before heavy rains or when the ground is frozen
  • apply smaller amounts of fertilizer more frequently to avoid the build-up of excessive nutrients
  • aerate the soil before applying fertilizer
  • use quick release fertilizer on clay soil and slow release fertilizer on sandy soil

Reduce excess fertilizer

Take steps to reduce excess fertilizer use:

  • take a soil test to find out the current nutrient levels in your soil
  • choose a fertilizer that matches the nutrient requirements of your soil
  • always apply fertilizer based on the recommended application rates
  • leave grass clippings on your lawn after mowing to reduce the need for fertilizer
  • plant native plant specifies because they require less fertilizer

Fertilizer handling and storage tips

Make sure to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper handling and storage techniques. You should always:

  • store fertilizer in a covered facility
  • fill fertilizer spreaders on a hard surface
  • sweep up any spills immediately

Check out Lake Superior Streams for more information about proper fertilizer use and storage.

Fuel storage and handling

Fuel and fuel storage systems contain hazardous chemicals which if released into the environment can threaten drinking water supplies. A fuel spill or leak that contaminates water supplies is a risk to our health and the health of our community.

Report fuel leaks and spills

If you own a fuel tank, you are responsible to for reporting all fuel leaks and spills to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment Spills Action Centre.

Storage tips

To protect our water source from potential fuel leaks, follow these fuel storage tips:

  • place fuel tanks away from normal household and business activities
  • if your tank is installed in garage or work yard, make sure there is distance and protection from vehicles
  • install tanks away from drains and floor openings to prevent spills from escaping the property
  • choose a double-walled or double-bottom tank
  • install an overfill protection device on your fuel tank
  • have drip trays installed under the tank and fuel line
  • install a leak detection device
  • empty and remove all unused fuel tanks and any potentially contaminated soil

Cleaning a spill

Make sure that you train your employees on how to prevent, contain and immediately clean-up fuel spills. You should also have a spill kit close to the tank for any potential spills.

Hazardous waste

Hazardous wastes are harmful to human health and a small spill or leak could contaminate water supplies. It's important to ensure we properly store and dispose of hazardous materials so that they do not make their way into the environment and negatively impact our land and water.

Disposing hazardous waste

Take action to safely dispose of hazardous waste:

  • never dispose of hazardous wastes down a drain, toilet or in a garbage and recycling bin
  • visit Dufferin County to find out about hazard waste disposal events
  • hire a certified waste hauler to remove hazardous waste

Storing and handling hazardous waste

The best way to prevent contamination from hazardous waste is by using non-hazardous products. Consider switching products to something less harmful. If you are using hazardous products, please follow these storing and handling tips:

  • have spill clean-up kit on site
  • ensure all hazardous waste containers are in good condition
  • clearly label all hazardous waste containers
  • store waste containers indoors
  • place containers on spill containments pallets or surfaces

Common hazardous waste products

Hazardous waste products are quite common in many household and businesses. Here are some common household hazardous waste products:

  • automotive containers, fluids and batteries such as antifreeze, gasoline, motor oil, automotive batteries, fluids, etc.
  • household chemicals and cleaning products such as aerosols, bleach, paints, pool chemicals, solvents etc.
  • lawn and garden products such as fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides
  • health and beauty products such as pharmaceuticals, expired medications, vitamins, sharps and syringes, nail polish, etc.
  • electronics such as audio equipment, cameras, computers, phones, household appliances, televisions, radios etc.
  • other household items such as compact fluorescent bulbs, batteries, lighters and lighter fluid, propane, thermostats containing mercury

Review the following businesses also produce hazardous waste materials:

  • dry cleaning
  • automotive repair
  • chemical manufacturers
  • construction
  • laboratories
  • printing
  • equipment repair
  • pesticide application
  • furniture/wood manufacturing and refinishing
  • electroplating

Urbanization and land development

The Town of Orangeville relies on groundwater for drinking water. As the Town becomes more urbanized, more precipitation is directed to storm sewers (run-off) and less rainfall is able to soak into the ground to recharge the groundwater system. This increase in run-off can reduce the available drinking water supply.

Low Impact Development strategies

Low Impact Development (LID), is a way to manage rainfall run-off by using landscaping and design strategies. These practices help improve water quality, reduce the risk of flooding and help recharge our groundwater.

Create a rain garden

Learn how to create a rain garden. Rain gardens look like a regular garden but are specifically designed to manage stormwater run-off. Use of sand-silt/loam soil mix to improve water absorption.

Redirect rooftop run-off

Position downspouts away from paved and hard surface areas. Instead, direct them towards your lawn or garden so the water can enter the ground faster.

Avoid asphalt and pavement

Asphalt and pavement prevent rain water from entering the ground. Instead, try using interlocker pavers, cobblestone, gravel or permeable asphalts and pavements on driveways and walkways on your property.

Try fusion landscaping

Fusion landscaping relies on low impact development techniques and nature based design to capture and use stormwater on site to water gardens. Learn more about fusion landscaping.

Septic systems

Septic systems are wastewater treatment units used by landowners who are not connected to the municipal wastewater system. When operated and maintained responsibly, septic systems are a safe and reliable way of treating household wastewater. However, if not properly maintained, septic systems could fail and contaminate nearby drinking water sources.

Septic system inspections

If your septic system is within 100 metres of a municipal drinking water well, your system will need to be inspected by Town staff every five years. We will contact property owners to book an inspection.

Maintaining your septic system

Here are a few things that you can do to protect your septic system and the environment:

  • know the location of your septic system and leaching bed
  • never dig, drive or build on your septic system because this can cause damage to the system
  • keep accurate records of septic maintenance and service calls to ensure that you follow a proper cleaning schedule
  • pump out your tank on a regular basis (every three to five years)
  • divert surface water away from your leaching bed and make sure rain gutters don't drain in this area
  • conserve water to reduce the amount of wastewater that needs to be treated
  • avoid planting trees and shrubs close to the septic system because roots can cause damage
  • insulate your pipes to protect water lines during the cold
  • never put hazardous chemicals into your septic system

Signs your septic needs maintenance

Review the following signs to see if your septic needs some maintenance:

  • spongy spots on or near the septic bed
  • sewage on the ground or near the septic bed
  • odour outside or in your basement
  • slow or backed-up drains in your house

Road Salting

Road salt keeps us safe in the winter but too much can impact the quality of our drinking water, harm vegetation and wildlife, and deteriorate infrastructure. Responsible road salt management can reduce the negative environmental impacts to our drinking water quality.

Find out about how to Salt Responsibly

Source protection science

Review the Assessment Report for the Credit Valley Source Protection Area. This document includes the scientific information that the Source Protection Plan and policies are based on, including:

  • description of the local watershed and water supplies
  • identification of vulnerable areas around well supplies and where drinking water sources are most sensitive to contamination and depletion
  • identification of the number and types of drinking water threats
  • calculation of a budget to assess local water demand versus available supply