On this page you will find information about drinking water legislation in B.C., including:

  • The Drinking Water Protection Act
  • The Drinking Water Protection Regulation
  • Amendments to the Drinking Water Protection Regulation

Drinking Water Protection Act

The Drinking Water Protection Act and Drinking Water Protection Regulation replace the former Safe Drinking Water Regulation.

The Drinking Water Protection Act covers all water systems, except single-family dwellings (and systems excluded through the regulation). It sets out requirements for drinking water operators and suppliers to ensure the provision of safe drinking water to their customers:

  • Water system construction proposals must be approved by public health engineers.
  • Water system operators must operate their systems in compliance with the requirements of the Drinking Water Protection Act through operating permits, which may contain specific conditions and are set and approved by the drinking water officer.
  • Minimum water treatment and water quality standards are to be met, and monitoring and testing carried out, as required.
  • Water suppliers must have microbiological samples analyzed by a laboratory that has been approved by the Provincial Health Officer.
  • Operators of water systems serving more than 500 individuals must be certified as operators through the Environmental Operators Certification Program.
  • Public notification must be made in case of water quality problems.

The Drinking Water Protection Act also helps to ensure safe and potable drinking water for British Columbians by assigning the following duties to the Provincial Health Officer:

  • Monitor compliance of drinking water officers by way of guidelines and directives.
  • Prepare and deliver an annual report to the Minister of Health regarding activities under the act.
  • Report about all drinking water issues that threaten public health.
  • Make recommendations to the minister with regard to drinking water protection planning.
  • Oversee, review, and make amendments to drinking water protection plan.

Drinking Water Protection Regulation

The Drinking Water Protection Regulation sets out requirements for drinking water quality – including treatment, construction and operation of water systems, monitoring, reporting, and public notification in the event that water becomes undrinkable.

The Drinking Water Protection Regulation was amended on December 9, 2005 to meet the needs of small water systems in the province (systems serving under 500 people in a 24-hr period), while continuing to protect public health. The regulation was also changed to address other outstanding and general regulatory changes.

The regulation and its amendments are part of the Province's ongoing work to improve B.C.'s drinking water protection, as outlined in the 2002 Action Plan for Safe Drinking Water in British Columbia (PDF, 973KB).

Amendments to the Drinking Water Protection Regulation

Amendments Particular to Small Water Systems

  • New definition of "small system": water supply system that serves up to 500 individuals during any 24-hour period, including:
    • residential, industrial, commercial and institutional systems;
    • transient work camps;
    • permanent work camps;
    • bulk water haulers;
    • road-side rest stops;
    • stand-alone public bathrooms; and
    • camp grounds.
  • Allowance for "point-of-use" potability technology.
  • Discretionary authority of drinking water officers, guided by the Drinking Water Officers’ Guide to:
    • Determine certification requirements for small system operators.
    • Waive requirement for construction permits.
  • Small systems that do not provide water for consumption or food preparation are not subject to the same potability requirements.
  • Provision allows for "flexible" application of the regulation by treating small water systems differently from other systems and allowing discretion to be applied on a "case-by-case" basis.
  • Application of "discretionary" provisions will be guided by the Drinking Water Officers’ Guide.

General Amendments

  • Clarify that “building systems” connected to a regulated water supply system and covered by the B.C. Plumbing Code do not require additional permitting or operator certification.
  • Clarify that the water supply owner is the party that is obligated to carry out disinfection of water supplies.
  • Allow drinking-water-officer-approved professional engineers to issue construction permits for water systems.
  • Require that laboratories (at the request of a drinking water officer) report all water samples received and the results of testing to the drinking water officer and/or the water supply system owner.
  • Allow an uncertified specialist to maintain or repair a water supply system, provided he/she does so in accordance with procedures approved by a certified individual.
  • Require both total coliform and E. coli testing.
  • Clarify that bottled water and bulk-water dispensing machines are excluded from the requirements of the Drinking Water Protection Act. They are subject to the Food Premises Regulation under the Public Health Act and the federal Food and Drug Regulations (Division 12).