Media Release

Environmentalists call upon McGuinty Government to fix Deficient Water Well Regulation

Nov 05 2003

Lawyers with the Canadian Environmental Law Association ("CELA") have filed an Application for Review of Ontario Regulation 903 (Wells). The CELA Application, served upon the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario pursuant to the Environmental Bill of Rights ("EBR"), documents numerous deficiencies within Regulation 903, and requests the Minister of the Environment to substantially revise the Regulation. "In our opinion, Regulation 903 is inadequate to protect public health and the environment from harm caused by improper well construction," said Richard Lindgren, counsel for CELA. "Millions of Ontarians depend on wellwater, and yet Regulation 903 leaves wellwater quality and quantity at considerable risk across the province." Regulation 903 has existed under the Ontario Water Resources Act for many years, and the Regulation sets out provincial standards for the construction, maintenance, and decommissioning of wells. In the spring of 2003, the Eves government significantly amended Regulation 903, and these changes are now in force."The recent changes to Regulation 903 are highly problematic and largely ineffective," stated Paul Muldoon, CELA Executive Director. "If the Ontario government is serious about protecting public health and the environment, then Regulation 903 must be reviewed and revised, particularly in light of the government's adoption of the Walkerton Inquiry recommendations." The CELA Application for Review concludes that Regulation 903, as amended, is deficient for numerous reasons. Among other things, the amendments:

  • significantly lower chlorination requirements for disinfecting new wells;
  • fail to specify how chlorine levels are to be measured;
  • fail to require the timely removal of excessive chlorine from new wells;
  • fail to require contractors to properly clean new wells by removing sediment created by well construction activities;
  • exempt test holes and de-watering wells from virtually all of the prescribed construction standards;
  • fail to require proper testing for various dangerous gases that may be present in bedrock (i.e. methane, hydrogen sulphide, radon);
  • allow well contractors to utilize "used" materials in the wellwater system; permit the elimination of critically important pumping tests to determine well yield; and
  • impose vague and possibly unenforceable requirements regarding the placement of sealant alongside well casings to depth.

Under the EBR, the CELA Application for Review will be forwarded by the Environmental Commissioner to Environment Minister Leona Dombrosky. Upon receipt of the Application, the Environment Minister is legally obliged to consider and respond to the requested review of Regulation 903.- 30 -For further information, please contact: Richard Lindgren, 613-385-1686 or Paul Muldoon, 416-960-2284 ext.219 On-line:See EBR posting on Proposed Amendments to the Wells Regulation at