The project is conceived in three phases with the goal of achieving a better understanding of the capacity of existing and planned servicing for water and wastewater within the context of the assimilative and water-bearing capacity of the inland water systems of the Greater Golden Horseshoe. This report presents the results of Phase 1.
Phase 1: The feasibility study sought to answer two questions:
- What data is available to assess the capacity and constraints of existing and planned water and wastewater systems against the assimilative capacity of the inland water systems?
- If the data is available, what types of data products and tools can be developed to better inform the allocation of growth across the Greater Golden Horseshoe?
Phase 2: Data collection and build-out of spatial database.
Phase 3: Design and build-out of scenario-based decision-support tool to identify vulnerabilities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
This report identifies a variety of data sources in different formats at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels to assess the capacity of existing and planned water and wastewater systems against the assimilative capacity of inland water systems.
As noted, the sharing of some data sets by MOECC and Environment and Climate Change Canada would greatly facilitate the linking of information to create a more complete and current picture of capacity and provide a framework for ongoing data collection for settlements in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
The Source Water Protection Plan process and the work of the Oak Ridges Moraine Groundwater Program have identified many issues with groundwater. Their work has, however, been limited by fragmented geography and a shortage of information on the assimilative capacity of inland lakes and rivers at a regional scale.
The Oak Ridges Moraine Groundwater Program is nonetheless a model not only for collecting and updating groundwater information in Phase 2, but also for developing a decision-support system that allows users of the information to query the data and visualize the results.
This feasibility study shows that creating a regional picture of capacity will involve linking existing data sets. For example:
- The flow reports of municipalities will have to be linked using unique identifiers such as Drinking Water System numbers or a Permit to Take Water number because, at this time, the Province does not track flow in its database systems.
- Efforts are needed to improve connections between the Permits to Take Water, Well Water Information System, and water takings information.
- Environment and Climate Change Canada has spatial and other information about discharge points and effluent loadings of wastewater treatment plants that will be critical to understanding the assimilative capacity of inland water systems.
- Assimilative capacity data tend to be contained in study reports at the municipal and conservation authority level; we are unaware of any attempt to consolidate the data, models, and conclusions of such studies at the regional level.
Municipalities already track the capacity of their systems by comparing plant and well flow rates against rated/design capacity or allowable takings. The challenge and the opportunity are to create a regional picture and link both water and wastewater data to existing and planned settlement areas in municipal official plans and land budgets as well as to assimilative capacity.
Phase 2 of this project will involve data collection and build-out of a spatial database and could include a study of the potential to expand the Oak Ridges Moraine Groundwater Program database to include wastewater and other assimilative capacity information for the entire GGH. Flow and capacity data from municipal reports can be added to create a high-level regional overlay of the capacity of water and wastewater systems relative to planned growth. This could be linked to Neptis's settlement area database, combining data on population, water sources, and wastewater treatment plants. This structured database should consolidate source water and assimilative capacity data, models, and results at the regional level into a common database and data format that can eventually be the basis of the decision support system (DSS).
The creation of this foundational database will support the design and build-out of a scenario-based decision-support tool in Phase 3 to inform the work of the Province and upper-tier municipalities in growth management across the Greater Golden Horseshoe.