Wed, 21 Apr 2021

Using GIS to meet local Source Protection Plan requirements.

All Customer Stories

“We can now process complex information and present it in a format that is easy to understand. This makes it much easier to manage the Region’s almost 400 individual Source Protection Plan policies and approximately 50,000 properties where these policies could apply.”

– Eric Thuss, Risk Management Official

The Challenge

The Province of Ontario, Canada uses a multi-barrier approach to protect drinking water, which includes the protection of surface and ground water that supply municipal drinking water systems. The Clean Water Act directs communities to collaboratively develop and implement Source Protection Plans that identify activities that may pose a risk to water sources along with tools to mitigate the risks.

When the Region of Waterloo was implementing its Source Protection Plan, one requirement was that all development applications and building permits within source water protection areas must be screened to ensure that any proposed activities are compliant with the Plan’s policies. As the Region is a two-tiered municipality, most of these applications are submitted to the local municipalities (city and township offices), and manually assessing the hundreds of applications received per year could result in unnecessary delays. The Region is also responsible for implementing Source Protection Plan tools for the thousands of existing activities where policies apply. This includes collecting and managing comprehensive data sets, including activities, inspections, tasks, correspondences, and other relevant data.

The Region needed a GIS-based solution to help collect and manage data, and to determine whether any of the nearly 400 Region policies apply to existing or proposed activities.

The solution needed to be user-friendly and accessible, as a core purpose of the application was to enable the public to determine how the Source Protection Plan may impact activities on their property.

The Solution

The Threats and Policy System (TAPS) solution consists of two components: TAPS Public and TAPS Admin.

TAPS Public allows users to determine how the Source Protection Plan may impact the activities related to their property and apply for a Notice of Source Protection Plan Compliance, which can then be submitted to the local municipality receiving the development application or building permit. Users can also use the system to generate a property report, which provides a high-level summary of activities that may be prohibited or may require the negotiation of a Risk Management Plan.

TAPS Admin is the administrative component of the application, which allows Region staff to monitor the system and manage all data and information created by public and internal users. TAPS Admin alerts staff of items requiring attention, and can handle multiple processes ranging from activity confirmation inspections to incentive payouts to logging correspondences.

The Result

The TAPS solution has helped the Region meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act. Region staff use TAPS as an initial screening tool to help prioritize development applications that are more likely to have policy implications, rather than manually screening and assessing hundreds of development applications or permits every year. This has made them more efficient in delivering program requirements across protection areas for more than 100 municipal supply wells and that potentially impact tens of thousands of properties.

In the first two years after implementation, public users generated over 1,000 Notices of Source Protection Plan Compliance using TAPS. The Region estimated that generating a Notice manually would require 15-20 minutes of staff time, meaning they had already saved over 250 hours since the application’s launch.

All Customer Stories