The Regional Municipality Of York

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Water and Wastewater Master Plan

York Region is updating its Water and Wastewater Master Plan to ensure drinking water and wastewater services meet community needs now and into the future. The Water and Wastewater Master Plan is the Region’s plan for providing safe, cost-efficient and reliable water and wastewater services to the Region’s residents, businesses and communities.

Why update the Master Plan?

York Region is expected to grow to 1.8 million people and 900,000 jobs by 2041. To accommodate this growth, address the Region’s evolving communities and to stay current with the changing needs of the future, the Region reviews and updates the plan every five years. The last Master Plan update was endorsed by Council in 2016.

The Plan’s goal is to support healthy and complete communities by identifying long-term strategies, initiatives, programs and infrastructure projects to meet water and wastewater servicing needs to 2041 and beyond.

The updated Plan will be presented to York Region Council for endorsement in 2021.

The Master Plan update will follow the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment master planning process and will become the basis for future studies for proposed Schedule B and C projects.

NOTICE: Prior project communications indicated the Master Plan Update would also fulfill the requirements for selected Schedule B projects identified in the plan. This direction has changed and now Schedule B Environmental Assessments for specific projects will happen as standalone studies outside of the Master Plan process.

Engagement Process – how to get involved

The Plan update will involve three stages:  Discover, Explore, and Reveal. In each of these three stages, the Region will seek public feedback to better understand your perspectives on our water and wastewater system. An Open House will be held at each stage. The graphic below shows the project timeline and theme of each Open House.

Graphic showing that York Region is in the explore phase where they identify and evaluate strategies.


In the Discover stage, we Listen and Learn. The Region listens to stakeholders, partners and the public to understand views, concerns and expectations through consultation. 

In the Explore stage, we consult with the public and stakeholders to get feedback on potential servicing options. We ensure input received at the Discover stage is understood and considered prior to developing the proposed servicing solutions. We are currently in the Explore stage.

The Reveal stage focuses on presenting the short and long term strategies that will be carried forward. At this point, we will look for feedback to confirm we are on the right track. The information communicated in this stage will include:

  • The proposed servicing strategy
  • Any changes from our current servicing plan
  • How engagement input influenced the proposed solution and if not, explain how the input was considered and why it could not be incorporated

2019 Open House

Thank you to everyone who attended one of the “Dive Into Your Water System” Open Houses in fall 2019, the first of three rounds of engagement planned over the course of the Master Plan Update. 

This concludes our engagement activities for the Discover stage of the 2021 Water and Wastewater Master Plan Update.

A report has been prepared to summarize the Open House events and how the feedback received will be considered in the Master Plan. View the summary report here.

While feedback on the first round of Open Houses and project’s Opportunity Statement is now closed, you can still look at the Open House display boards and view the online Open House presentation. Should you have any questions, feel free to email us at water@york.ca

As we continue into the Explore stage, stay up-to-date on opportunities to get involved by signing up for our:

Accessible formats or communication supports due to disability are available upon request. Please contact AccessYork@york.ca or call 1-877-464-9675.

How else will I hear about public engagement opportunities?

Public engagement opportunities will be promoted in local newspapers, on this webpage and on York Region’s social media channels Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Thank you for your input

From August 3 to September 16 we asked residents what they thought about their water and wastewater services. More than 1,600 people shared their thoughts with us. Survey participants also had the opportunity to enter a contest for a gift card prize.

If you participated in the Water Survey, thank you! Your input will be used to inform current and future Environmental Services programs, initiatives and communications.

How will my input be used?

Feedback gathered from public and stakeholder engagement will be reviewed with York Region, its Cities’ and Towns’ policies and standards, provincial regulations, site conditions and technical analysis then refined for the next stage of engagement. Feedback will help inform York Region’s current and future water and wastewater programs, initiatives and communications.

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One Water Framework

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 2016 Water and Wastewater Master Plan and will allow York Region to sustainably meet the water needs of a growing population. This 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

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

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Previous Masterplan Update (2016)

Outcomes of the 2016 Master Plan

Servicing Concepts

The 2016 Master Plan considered several servicing concept options to meet 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 described below are in fact a combination of several of these concept options.

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.

For a more detailed comparison of the two servicing strategies, click here.

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


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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. Updates to the Master Plan are coordinated with the Region’s Municipal Comprehensive Review and follow Phases 1 and 2 of the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment process and meet the needs of Section 3.2.6 of the Province’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

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. The Master Plan provides the basis for future studies for specific proposed Schedule B and C projects.

Why does York Region’s Water and Wastewater Master Plan need to be updated?

York Region’s current Water and Wastewater Master Plan was endorsed by Council in 2016. Updating the Plan on a regular basis ensures projects and initiatives reflect the Region’s evolving needs and challenges.

How will the Master Plan consider long-term sustainability?

Similar to the 2016 Water and Wastewater Master Plan, this update is based on three key principles:

  • Integration: taking a coordinated and holistic approach to water resource and growth management 
    • Regional, local municipal planning
    • Asset management projects
    • Water conservation
    • Inflow and infiltration reduction
  • Innovation: practicing and exploring new concepts and ideas to promote cost efficiency and environmental sustainability
    • Optimizing energy efficiency, consumption and costs
    • Climate change adaptation and resiliency
    • Water reuse
    • Exploring new technologies
  • Infrastructure optimization (Infra-stretching): maximizing the useful life and capacity of built infrastructure to defer and/or minimize capital investment

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

In August 2019, York Region began updating its 2016 Water and Wastewater Master Plan. The Water and Wastewater Master Plan Update will be developed in three stages each ending with public consultation. We are currently in the second stage of the process. Our first round of public Open Houses was completed in fall 2019. Details can be found above.

Stage 1: Discover Understand York Region’s water and wastewater systems

This stage aims to inform people about:

  • Our existing water and wastewater systems
  • Constraints and opportunities to providing water and wastewater services to existing and future communities to 2041 and beyond
  • Existing water and wastewater programs, policies and strategies and how they integrate with the Water and Wastewater Master Plan

Stage 2: Explore Servicing strategies

This stage aims to:

  • Identify needs and priorities of local municipalities
  • Develop and evaluate alternative strategies to provide water and wastewater service to existing and future communities to 2041 and beyond

Stage 3: Reveal and confirm  Recommended servicing solution

This stage aims to:

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

Public and stakeholder engagement will be incorporated at all phases of the project.

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

We aim to complete the Water and Wastewater Master Plan Update in 2021.

What happens after the Master Plan is completed?

Once the Plan is completed, we will implement the servicing strategy identified in the Master Plan. This includes carrying out appropriate policy and program recommendations, maintaining existing water and wastewater infrastructure, and building new infrastructure in accordance with the Class Environmental Assessments process.

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

York Region is completing the Water and Wastewater Master Plan Update in coordination with the Region’s Municipal Comprehensive Review. Directly related to the Water and Wastewater Master Plan Update are:

  • The Municipal Comprehensive Review helps the Region plan for growth and ensures that the infrastructure to support that growth is in place, now and for the future and includes the review of the Regional Official Plan and Transportation Master Plan
  • 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 to 2041 and beyond. 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

What did we learn from the 2016 Master Plan Update 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. 

At a high level, we heard:

  • 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
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Get Involved and Stay Connected!

There are many opportunities to get involved in the Water and Wastewater Master Plan Update project. For more information or to submit questions or comments about the 2021 Master Plan Update, contact water@york.ca or 1-877-464-9675.

For project updates, information on hot environmental topics, contests and events please subscribe to our Splash Newsletter.



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Web page last updated: May 4, 2020


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