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Water and Wastewater Master Plan

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The Water and Wastewater Master Plan is York Region’s strategy for providing water and wastewater services to residents and businesses. The plan ensures water and wastewater systems meet current and future demands and are able to provide safe, cost-efficient and reliable services to the Region’s communities. York Region is expected to grow to 1.79 million people and 900,000 jobs by 2041. To accommodate this growth and be at the forefront of best practices, York Region reviews and updates the plan every five years.


What is “One Water”?

One Water is a concept that looks at making the best possible use of water from every source to sustain healthy people, healthy communities and a healthy environment.

What is York Region’s One Water Action Plan?

One Water Action Plan Report CoverThe One Water Action Plan aims to turn One Water into a day-to-day reality by changing the way water users and providers think about water, and using that new way of thinking to create and apply innovative solutions.  The plan brings together existing programs that support One Water and identifies new actions that broaden One Water’s benefits.

One Water emerged as a key strategic component of the Water and Wastewater Master Plan.  It was recognized that in order for York Region to sustainably meet the water needs of a growing population, it must embrace a One Water approach.  This new concept:

  • Reduces the burden on water sources and infrastructure
  • Encourages greater conservation and the use of natural processes to manage water
  • Finds valuable new sources of water in rainfall, snow melt and the safe reuse of treated water

The plan puts York Region at the forefront of understanding how One Water can help people, business and communities thrive.


The Strategies

Two servicing strategies were considered under the Master Plan Update – the Lake Simcoe and Lake Ontario Servicing Strategy alternatives. The difference between the two strategies is the source of water supply to support growth in Newmarket and parts of East Gwillimbury.  

Wastewater servicing is similar for both strategy alternatives and incorporates the use of the Duffin Creek Plant and a future water reclamation centre located in East Gwillimbury which would discharge into Lake Simcoe via the East Holland River.

Based on evaluation in accordance with the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA) process and including public and stakeholder input, the Lake Simcoe Servicing Strategy is the recommended strategy under the Master Plan Update.

Key features of the Lake Simcoe Servicing Strategy

  • Incremental demand in East Gwillimbury and Newmarket to be supplied from both Lake Simcoe and Lake Ontario
  • Existing water supply from Lake Ontario and groundwater to be maintained
  • Increased Water Conservation in order to reduce water demand
  • Increased Inflow and Infiltration (I/I) Reduction to reduce loading on sanitary sewers and treatment facilities
  • Intra-basin water transfer from Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe to be minimized
  • Water supply increases to be within existing Permit to Take Water (PTTW) capacities (any proposed increase in treatment capacity is within existing Permit to Take Water limits)

Benefits of the Lake Simcoe Servicing Strategy

  1. Diversity of Supply - Interconnection between Lake Simcoe and Lake Ontario supplies provides redundancy in the event of a disruption to either supply
  2. Water Quality - Shorter water age (water age = the time it takes for water to travel from a source to the consumer)
  3. Climate Change and Energy Efficiency - Minimizes energy consumption as a result of less pumping
  4. Water Balance - Intra-basin water transfer from Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe is minimized

View recommended 2041 Water and Wastewater Servicing Strategy maps

View the 2016 Water and Wastewater Master Plan Update

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Water Wastewater Master Plan?

The Water and Wastewater Master Plan provides a long-term water and wastewater servicing strategy that supports existing communities and growth to 2041 and beyond. It integrates social, environmental and financial sustainability principles.

What is a Municipal Class Environmental Assessment Process? What does this mean for the Water and Wastewater Master Plan?

The Municipal Class Environmental Assessment Process is an approved process under the Environmental Assessment Act.

The Water and Wastewater Master Plan is being conducted in accordance with the requirements of Phases 1 and 2 of the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment Process.

The Class Environmental Assessment process provides a consistent, streamlined and easily understood process for planning and implementing municipal infrastructure projects. It also ensures public and stakeholder participation.

By completing Phases 1 and 2 of the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment process, York Region can expedite the implementation of certain servicing solutions identified in the Water and Wastewater Master Plan.

Does York Region currently have a Water and Wastewater Master Plan? If so, why does it need to be updated?

York Region’s current Water and Wastewater Master Plan was endorsed by Council in 2009. Updating the plan on a regular basis ensures projects and initiatives reflect the Region’s evolving needs and challenges.

What is new about this Master Plan Update?

The Water and Wastewater Master Plan update is based on three key principles:

  • Integration: Programs and policies creating collaboration and increased efficiency
    • Regional, local municipal projects
    • Asset management projects and processes
    • Water conservation
    • Inflow and infiltration reduction
  • Innovation: Recognizing and targeting emerging opportunities
    • Optimizing energy consumption and costs
    • Climate change adaptation and resiliency
    • Energy efficiency, recovery and opportunities for renewable energy
    • Water reuse
    • Piloting new technologies
  • Infrastructure optimization (Infra-stretching): Using existing infrastructure more efficiently to minimize the need for new infrastructure

What are the stages of this study? What stage is the study in now?

The study is complete. 

The Water and Wastewater Master Plan is developed in three phases, each ending with public consultation.

Phase 1: Understand York Region’s water and wastewater systems

  • Overview of existing water and wastewater systems
  • Constraints and opportunities to servicing existing and future communities over the next 25 years
  • Understand existing programs, policies and strategies to ensure integration with the Water and Wastewater Master Plan

Phase 2: Servicing concepts and strategies

  • Identify needs and priorities of local municipalities
  • Develop high level overview of servicing concepts
  • Identify and evaluate the recommended strategies to service existing and future communities over the next 25 years

Phase 3: Recommended servicing alternatives

  • Identify recommended alternatives from the preferred servicing strategy for water and wastewater servicing for both existing and future communities
  • Finalize Water and Wastewater Master Plan documents for public and Regional Council review and endorsement

Public and stakeholder engagement is being incorporated in all phases of the project.

When will the Water and Wastewater Master Plan update be complete?

The Water and Wastewater Master Plan update completed in Fall 2016.

What happens after the Master Plan is completed?

Once the plan is completed, we will implement the infrastructure through separate Class Environmental Assessments along with appropriate policy and program recommendations - to ensure York Region continues to deliver sustainable water and wastewater services for existing and new communities.

How can I get involved?

There are many opportunities to get involved in the Water and Wastewater Master Plan update. You can contact the project team at any time at watermasterplan@york.ca or at 1-877-464-9675

Are other Regional initiatives related to the Water and Wastewater Master Plan?

York Region is also reviewing and updating two other long-term strategic plans.

  • The Regional Official Plan outlines the policies of York Region to guide growth management, economic, environmental and community planning decisions.
  • The Transportation Master Plan is York Region’s blueprint addressing the transportation and mobility needs of those living and working in York Region over the next 25 years. It guides planning and investing in the Region’s transportation network, including Regional Roads, York Region Transit (YRT/Viva) and regional cycling and walking trails and pathways.

The Water and Wastewater Master Plan process is being coordinated with the Regional Official Plan and Transportation Master Plan update.

What did we learn through Consultation?

We heard from residents, local municipalities, agencies such as Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and staff from York Region. 

  • As York Region continues to grow, it is important that innovative approaches to water and wastewater treatment are used to maintain water quality
  • Future population and employment growth should not compromise services currently provided to existing residents or significantly increase the price of water
  • Consideration of environmental sustainability is critical when examining potential servicing strategies
  • Ensure coordination with local and partner municipalities and conservation authorities to create an integrated Master Plan
  • The quality and quantity of our water resources must be protected
  • Action must be taken on climate change and how it may impact water resources and servicing
  • Identify opportunities for energy efficiency and recovery
  • Ensure Regional staff are accountable both from a technical and from a financial standpoint

What are the servicing concepts to be considered?

Several servicing concept options were considered to service future demand for water services including: doing nothing, limiting growth, using Water Conservation and Inflow/Infiltration Reduction, using Groundwater, using water from Lake Ontario, using water from Lake Simcoe and combining any of the aforementioned. The servicing strategy alternatives are in fact a combination of several of these concept options.

What are these three key servicing strategies?

York Region is divided into different water service areas. Currently, some are serviced solely by groundwater, some are serviced solely by lake-based water and some are serviced by both groundwater and lake-based water. The majority of the urban area in the south including City of Vaughan, Town of Richmond Hill and City of Markham are serviced by Lake Ontario water.  The Town of Aurora, Town of Newmarket, Township of King and Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville are serviced by both Lake Ontario water and groundwater. The Town of Georgina is serviced by Lake Simcoe water and the Town of East Gwillimbury is currently serviced solely by groundwater. York Region also has many smaller communities that are serviced by their own groundwater system.

Increasing demand for water services in York Region will require an increase in the supply of drinking water.  This increase in supply will come from one or a combination of three sources:  Lake Ontario, Lake Simcoe or groundwater.  Part of this demand may be met through demand reducing programs such as water conservation and inflow and infiltration (I/I) reduction which will reduce the additional loads on our water and wastewater systems allowing us to service more people with existing infrastructure.
The two servicing strategies evaluated under the Master Plan are:

Lake Simcoe Servicing Strategy:

  • Leverages Lake Simcoe water supply and wastewater treatment
  • Groundwater supply is maintained
  • Water conservation and inflow and infiltration reduction is increased

Lake Ontario Servicing Strategy:

  • Leverages Lake Ontario water supply and wastewater treatment
  • Groundwater supply is maintained
  • Water conservation and inflow and infiltration reduction is increased
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Open Houses

Results were presented to the public for feedback at several open houses. 

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2009 Master Plan Information

View the 2009 water and wastewater master plan:

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Contact Us

There are many opportunities to get involved in the Water and Wastewater Master Plan update. You can contact the project team at any time at watermasterplan@york.ca or at 1-877-464-9675.

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