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Source Water Protection

Source water is untreated water from streams, lakes or underground aquifers used to supply private wells and public drinking water systems. Source water protection is about protecting both the quality and quantity of these sources, now and in the future. Thunder Bay receives its source water from Lake Superior at the Bare Point Water Treatment Plant.

Source water protection is an outcome of the Clean Water Act, 2006 based largely on recommendations from The Walkerton Inquiry. The Act introduced a new level of protection for Ontario drinking water resources, focusing on protecting water before it enters the drinking water treatment system.

In 2013, the Ontario government approved the Lakehead Source Protection Plan, developed by the Lakehead Source Protection Committee. This made Thunder Bay the first place in the province to have a comprehensive source-to-tap drinking water protection plan.

Intake Protection Zone Schematic for Bare Point WTP
Image to the Left:
The yellow circle indicates the 1-kilometre primary protection zone around the Bare Point Water Treatment Plant Intake.

The red line shows the secondary protection zone which includes "in-water" areas and protected areas along the shore, upland and up-tributary.


Source protection involves identifying threats to drinking water sources and determining appropriate actions to reduce or eliminate those threats. Thunder Bay uses watershed-based source protection, which means managing these threats at the level of river systems as a whole. This approach makes sense for our area because water flows across community boundaries. Activities in one community may influence the drinking water of another downstream, as well as its own source.

For more information about source protection in our area, see the Lakehead Conservation Authority's Source Water Protection website.

Source protection is only one part of ensuring safe drinking water. Other key elements are effective water treatment, protection of the distribution system and adequate testing of the finished drinking water and training of personnel involved with water treatment and distribution.

For more information contact Infrastructure & Operations at 625-2195.

Water resource links to partner and community groups: