Drinking Water System

The Province of Ontario has developed a Municipal Drinking Water Licensing Program for municipal drinking water systems.  A key component is the development of Drinking Water Quality Management Systems. 

Drinking Water Quality Management System (DWQMS) Policies: 

What is a Quality Management System? 

A Quality Management System is a series of polices, procedures and documents that outline organizational structure, responsibilities and resources. Many industries currently have QMS in place, such as; food production, manufacturing and laboratory services. 

What does a QMS have to do with drinking water?

Implementing a municipal drinking water licensing program was one of the recommendations made by Justice O'Connor in the Walkerton Water Inquiry.  Implementing a Drinking Water Quality Management Standard is one piece of the new licensing program. 

What does this DWQMS mean for me?

There will be no change for the consumer; you will still receive the same high quality, clean safe water as always. Additionally, you will receive the benefits of having a drinking water quality management system in place: greater efficiency and effectiveness, great accountability and assurance of due diligence, and identification and mitigation of water quality risks. 

The Elements of the DWQMS 

The DWQMS requires the operating authority to develop operation plans that explain how the City of St. Thomas should operate our drinking water systems. These guidelines for the plans are in the form of 21 elements. 

The elements are: 

Element 1 - The Quality Management System
The Operational Plan will outline a Quality Management System (QMS) that meets the requirements of the DWQMS. 

Element 2 - The Quality Management System Policy
The Operational Plan must have a QMS policy that provides the foundation for the QMS and;

a. is appropriate for the size and type of the subject system
b. includes a commitment to maintenance and continual improvement
c. includes a commitment to the consumer to provide safe drinking water
d. includes a commitment to comply with applicable legislation and regulations
e. is created in a way that provides for ready communication to all operating authority personnel, the owner and the public 

Element 3 - Commitment and Endorsement
The Operational Plan will contain a written endorsement of its contents by the organization's top management and owner. 

Element 4 - QMS Representative
The Operational Plan will identify a QMS representative. 

Element 5 - Document and Records Control
The Operational Plan will document a procedure for managing document and records that describes how documents required by the QMS are kept current, legible and readily identifiable, as well as retrievable, protected, retained and disposed of. 

Element 6 - Drinking Water System
The Operational Plan will include a detailed description of the drinking water system including; 

a. all treatment processes and distribution system components
b. a process flow chart 

Element 7 and 8 - Risk Assessment and Risk Assessment Outcomes
The Operational Plan will document a risk assessment process that identifies; 

a. potential hazardous events and their associated hazards
b. an assessment and a ranking of these risks
c. control measures to address the hazards
d. identifies the drinking water systems critical control points 

As well, there must be a procedure in place to monitor the critical control points, what to do if the operator deviates from the critical control points and how to report these deviations. 

Element 9 - Organizational Structure, Roles Responsibilities and Authorities
This includes a description of our organizational structure and an overview of our individual roles and responsibilities. 

Element 10 - Competencies
The Operational Plan describes the compentencies required for staff who perform duties that directly affect drinking water quality. Also how we develop and maintain compentencies and ensures staff understands the impact their duties have on drinking water. 

Element 11 - Personnel Coverage
The Operational Plan includes a procedure that ensures there is appropriate staff coverage possessing the identified competencies (element 10) for duties that directly affect drinking water quality. 

Element 12 - Communications
This element requires us to communicate our QMS policy and other relevant QMS procedures to staff, external partners and the public. 

Element 13 – Essential Supplies and Services
The Operational Plan lists the supplies and services that are essential to maintaining drinking water quality and methods to ensure the quality of the supplies and services. 

Element 14 – Review and Provision of Infrastructure
The element ensures the Region reviews what infrastructure is necessary to operate and maintain the systems and that it is in place when needed. 

Element 15 – Infrastructure Maintenance, Rehabilitation and Renewal
This element is a partner of the previous element and deals with an ongoing documentation of the maintenance, rehabilitation and renewal programs for our infrastructure. 

Element 16 – Sampling, Testing and Monitoring
The focus of element 16 is establishing and implementing a procedure that details how we sample, test, monitor for process control and finished drinking water quality. 

Element 17 – Measurement and Recording Equipment Calibration and Maintenance
This element is linked to element 16, because it deals with the equipment we use to sample and monitor water quality. We are required to document the procedures we use to calibrate and maintain our equipment. 

Element 18 – Emergency Management
This element ensures we are prepared for emergency situations that could impact our ability to maintain the supply of safe drinking water. This element also includes a Emergency Management Plan (EMP). 

Element 19 – Internal Audits
A procedure for conducting internal audits is required. This is a self auditing process that ensures we measure the effectiveness of our management plan and our conformity to the DWQMS requirements. 

Element 20 – Management Review
This element requires an annual management review procedure that covers areas such as: 

a. Emergency response testing
b. Compliance
c. Consumer feedback
d. Operational performance 

Element 21 – Continual Improvement
The final element of the DWQMS requires that the City of St. Thomas commit to continually find ways to improve how we manage ours drinking water systems and services through internal reviews, innovations, and strategic planning. 

Water Financial Plan 

The Financial Plan is one of the key elements of the Municipal Drinking Water Licensing Program .  The Ontario Financial Plan Regulation (O. Reg 453/07) mandates the owner of the municipal drinking water system to develop a long term strategy to ensure the financial sustainability of the drinking water system. 

The Water Financial Plan for the St. Thomas Area Secondary Water Supply System was approved by the Joint Board of Management on November 10, 2011.    

Ontario Regulation 453/07, Financial Plans under the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002, is a regulation that was designed by the Ministry of the Environment to ensure that municipalities plan for the long term financial sustainability and safety of their drinking water systems into the future.  Financial Plans are a summary of various capital and operational programs that have been approved. 

A hard copy of the plan and reference documents can also be provided on request.