Safe drinking water is critical to the protection of public health. While most of the drinking water in Alberta is provided by municipal systems, regulated under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, there are many public places, such as restaurants, campgrounds and summer camps, that have their own small systems. These systems typically use groundwater or cisterns to provide potable water and are regulated under the Nuisance and General Sanitation Regulation of the Public Health Act.
The purpose of the Public Health Guidelines for Non-Municipal Drinking Water is to provide clear direction and best practices for the management of public non-municipal drinking water regulated under the Public Health Act from the source of the water to the tap.
The guidelines also provide:
- details to help operators consistently achieve and deliver safe drinking water, by taking steps to protect the source of the water, safely transport and store the water, treat the water, when needed, and maintain and monitor the water system
- options and flexibility in reaching safe drinking water with measures that are proportionate to the size and type of system
Future of the guidelines
The Public Health Guidelines for Non-Municipal Drinking Water are the first step towards introducing standards for public non-municipal drinking water under the Nuisance and General Sanitation Regulation.
The Alberta government is consulting with operators and other stakeholders on future drinking water standards, which will be closely based on the guidelines. The practice notes in the guidelines only provide tips for additional assurance of safety and are not intended to be requirements in the future standards.
Operators were invited to participate in an online survey which closed on October 29, 2021.
Using the guidelines
Section 1 of the guidelines describes the types of systems. Each operator will need to determine if and how the guidelines apply to them. Operators would refer to the common sections and then jump to those section that apply specifically to their type of system.
Once an operator has determined that the guidelines apply to them, they are encouraged to work with the local public health inspector as they begin implementing the measures to provide safe drinking water and preparing for the introduction of the drinking water standards.
Three sections apply to all systems:
- 2 – Providing potable water
- 7 – Operations and maintenance
- 8 – Operator knowledge
Specific sections are provided for:
- 3 – Cisterns
- 4 – Water haulers
- 5 – Water wells
- 6 – Water treatment (groundwater systems)
- Nuisance and General Sanitation Regulation – sets out the requirements for potable water in public places.
- Public Health Guidelines for Non-Municipal Drinking Water – complement the Regulation with detailed guidance on providing potable water in public places.
- Learn more about drinking water systems regulated under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, for example, municipal systems, private utilities, systems using surface water.
Connect with Alberta Health Services:
Operators who have questions about their drinking water system and about how to implement measures in the guidelines can contact a local public health inspector:
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