August 26, 2002

Outdoor water ban relaxed in Aurora, Newmarket, Holland Landing, Queensville, Sharon and Mount Albert


NEWMARKET The Regional Municipality of York, today relaxed the Stage 2 Outdoor Water Use Ban for communities that rely on groundwater supplies, including Aurora, Newmarket, Holland Landing, Queensville, Sharon and Mount Albert, replacing it with a less severe Stage 1 Water Advisory. All the municipalities in York Region are now under the Stage 1 Advisory.

"Conservation efforts by residents along the Yonge Street corridor, and recent rainfall have resulted in lower water demand, allowing water levels in our storage reservoirs and aquifer systems to return to a satisfactory level," says Debbie Korolnek, Director of Water and Wastewater, York Region. "With our reserves replenished, restrictions on water use can be relaxed."

On July 17, 2002, a Stage 2 Outdoor Water Use Ban began in northern York Region for communities that rely on groundwater supplies, including Aurora, Newmarket, Holland Landing, Queensville, Sharon, Mount Albert, Ballantrae, Stouffville, King City, Kleinburg, Nobleton and Schomberg.

On August 7, 2002, the Stage 2 Ban was lifted for the Township of King, the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville and the community of Kleinburg (within the City of Vaughan), due to rainfall and water conservation efforts.

All the communities that rely on groundwater supplies have joined the communities of Vaughan (except Kleinburg), Richmond Hill, Markham, Georgina, Keswick and Sutton, that rely on Lake Ontario and Lake Simcoe water supplies, where the Stage 1 Advisory continues to be in effect.

"Much appreciation is owed to residents for their water conservation efforts," adds Korolnek. "Imposing a water ban is always difficult. With little rainfall, conservation is extremely important, and residents should be commended for easing water demand during this hot, dry summer."

The Stage 1 Outdoor Water Use Advisory requests all persons refrain from using municipal water from a hose, pipe, sprinkler or permanent irrigation system for the purposes of watering lawns or gardens, washing vehicles, sidewalks or driveways, and filling or topping up swimming pools.

For information on water bans, and future plans for water conservation, please see the attached Question and Answer Sheet.

To review Fact Sheets on Water Efficiency and harmonized outdoor water use bylaws, or for more information on the Regional Municipality of York, the services we offer and links to our nine area municipalities, please visit our Web site at

Contact: Michael Kemp, Corporate Communications Services

York Region water ban and advisory

Question 1: Why was there a water ban/advisory?

Answer: Typically summer water use by residents is as much as three times higher than the daily average. When the water supply is kept at this rate for a prolonged time, the levels in our reservoirs and source aquifers can become depleted. The water ban was issued this summer after a period of three weeks with no rainfall, which resulted in additional outdoor water use. A ban/advisory was issued so that water conservation efforts would ensure that there would be enough water for emergency services until the high summer demand was reduced and reserves were sufficiently replenished.

Question 2: Why was the ban on in some parts of York Region for so long?

Answer: The northern part of York Region, including the areas of Aurora, Newmarket, Holland Landing, Queensville, Sharon, Mount Albert, Ballantrae, Stouffville, King City, Kleinburg, Nobleton and Schomberg obtain water from groundwater sources. Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Keswick and Sutton obtain water from lake-based sources.

Lake-based sources can respond to the increased demand readily because of the large amount of water available in the lake that can be pumped. Our groundwater resources are part of a large natural reservoir (aquifer), however time is required for the levels in the underground systems to respond to our pumping. The Aurora/Newmarket system is one of the largest groundwater-based supplies in Ontario and careful management is required to ensure that the reserves will be available to continue to meet our needs. Rainfall helps by providing recharge to the aquifers and by reducing the demand for outdoor water use. Lifting the ban too early would result in additional outdoor use and depletion of the available reserves.

Question 3: Are we moving towards a yearly water ban?

Answer: Water restrictions have been imposed along the Yonge Street corridor during hot, dry summers since the 1950's. The need for restrictions or bans is based primarily on rainfall, which ultimately determines water use. If there is sufficient rainfall, bans or restrictions are usually not necessary.

York Region has an adequate supply of water for residents. Only during times of peak usage, where there is little rain for a prolonged period, are water restrictions necessary. This was the case this summer, where a ban/advisory was called to ensure protection of water sources for emergencies.

Question 4: What is York Region's long term strategy for water use?

Answer: Working with the Ministry of the Environment, York Region has embarked on a groundwater management study to better understand how our groundwater system works. This study will help to determine how best to protect our groundwater resources.

York Region has also recently concluded agreements with the Region of Peel and the City of Toronto to supplement groundwater supplies with water from Lake Ontario. While this does not mean an endless supply of water, the addition of water from Lake Ontario will help to better manage our water resources.

York Region will continue to educate and encourage residents (through programs such as Water for Tomorrow) to practice water conservation methods. Less demand on water systems greatly eases water management.

Question 5: Why are businesses exempted from water bans?

Answer: Quite simply, businesses provide residents with their livelihoods. Priority must be given to businesses to ensure that the local economy is not adversely affected by prolonged periods of extreme weather. While it is difficult to exempt some groups from watering bans, businesses must be allowed to effectively operate. As with others, water conservation measures will continue to be encouraged with business owners to ensure that water is only used when necessary.

Question 6: Bylaws between municipalities seemed to be enforced differently. Is this going to change?

Answer: Enforcement of water bans and advisories are the responsibility of each municipality. Bylaws are different in each area. Efforts are currently underway to harmonize bylaws between areas, to ensure fairness and consistency in enforcement.

Question 7: Other areas, such as the City of Toronto, lifted their water restrictions before York Region. Why was this the case?

Answer: York Region is in a fairly unique situation, where much of the northern areas are supplied by groundwater sources only. These areas are more heavily dependent on rainfall than those (like Toronto) where lake water is used. The persistent hot, dry weather experienced this summer prompted York Region to keep the water ban on. This ensured an adequate supply of water for emergencies through conservation.

The Regional Municipality of York is committed to providing cost-effective, quality services that respond to the needs of our rapidly growing communities.  York Region is comprised of the following nine area municipalities:  Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Whitchurch-Stouffville.  For more information, visit our Web site at:

Contact: Patrick Casey, Senior Media Relations Specialist, York Region

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