Amendments to the Wells Regulation

ERO number
013-1513
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Ontario Water Resources Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Proposal
Proposal posted
Comment period
October 28, 2019 - November 27, 2019 (30 days) Open
Last updated

This consultation closes at 11:59 p.m. on:
November 27, 2019

Proposal summary

We're proposing changes to the Wells Regulation that would make it easier for the well construction industry to operate in Ontario by reducing administrative burden, clarifying requirements and providing more flexibility in the choice of well casing materials, while maintaining protections for the environment, human health and safety and consumers.

Proposal details

Description of regulation

We are seeking public input on proposed changes to the Wells Regulation (R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 903 under the Ontario Water Resources Act) to reduce administrative burden on the well construction industry, while maintaining protections for the environment, human health and public safety, and consumers.

The Wells Regulation sets out requirements for:

  • constructing, maintaining and abandoning wells
  • licensing well contractors (businesses) and well technicians

The Wells Regulation and the Ontario Water Resources Act apply to:

  • water supply wells (e.g. private, municipal, agricultural, commercial, industrial wells)
  • dewatering wells
  • test holes

The proposed amendments to the Wells Regulation would:

  • modify minimum insurance requirements for licensed well contractors to match insurance policies available in the marketplace
  • update well casing standards
  • allow placement of shallow well screens for test holes and dewatering wells

The proposed amendments are expected to make it easier for the well construction industry to operate by reducing administrative burdens and aligning with current international standards, while maintaining protections for the environment, human health and safety, and well owners. This includes municipalities, agri-industry, businesses, institutions, and land owners.

Purpose of regulation

The purpose of the proposed amendments to the Wells Regulation is to:

  • modify minimum insurance requirements for licensed well contractors to match insurance policies available in the marketplace
  • update well casing specifications to harmonize with international standards
  • allow placement of shallow well screens for long-term test holes and dewatering wells

Details of the proposed amendments

Modify Minimum Insurance Requirements for Licensed Well Contractors

The Wells Regulation sets out minimum insurance requirements for licensed well contractors.

We are proposing to clarify in paragraph 2 of section 4 of the Wells Regulation that licensed well contractors must maintain third party general liability insurance, including bodily injury, personal injury, property damage and products and completed operations, with a limit per occurrence of not less than $2,000,000, and an annual aggregate limit of not less than $5,000,000. We are also proposing to remove the maximum deductible requirement to provide well contractors with more flexibility in selecting insurance policy options that are right for their business and customers.

Update Well Casing Standards

Subsection 13(16) of the Wells Regulation sets out minimum specifications for well casing for constructing new water supply wells. We are proposing to revise the casing specifications to ensure that well casing materials meet up-to-date international standards and match what is currently available in the marketplace. The full titles of the international standards documents would be added to the regulation for ease of reference. The phrase “as it may be amended from time to time” would be added so that as referenced international standards are updated by their authoring organizations, the latest version of the standard would apply, subject to the ministry informing the public of updates. The documents referred to in the regulation would also be on file in the office of the ministry in Toronto.

We are also proposing to delete the provision in the Wells Regulation that requires ‘high yield wells’ (e.g. municipal and industrial wells) to meet the casing specifications in Table 2 in AWWA A100-06 “Water Wells”. Instead, the casing standards found in Table 2 in AWWA A100-06 will be listed directly in the Wells Regulation as additional options for steel and plastic casing. This would allow the well technician to exercise professional judgment when selecting casing for high yield wells.

Accordingly, we are proposing to add the following additional options for steel:

  • Grade B pipe, ANSI/AWWA C200, “Steel Water Pipe 6 Inch (150 mm) and Larger”
  • Carbon steel pipe, API Spec. 5L, “Specification for Line Pipe”
  • Carbon steel, Grade B pipe, ASTM A139/A139M, “Standard Specification for Electric-Fusion (Arc)-Welded Steel Pipe (NPS 4 and Over)”
  • Copper-bearing steel, Grade B pipe, ASTM A139/A139M, “Standard Specification for Electric-Fusion (Arc)-Welded Steel Pipe (NPS 4 and Over)” and the steel must contain a minimum of 0.20 per cent copper.
  • High-strength, low-alloy steel, Type 4 pipe, ASTM A606/A606M, “Standard Specification for Steel, Sheet and Strip, High-Strength, Low-Alloy, Hot-Rolled and Cold-Rolled, with Improved Atmospheric Corrosion Resistance”
  • Stainless steel pipe, ASTM A778/A778M, “Standard Specification for Welded, Unannealed Austenitic Stainless Steel Tubular Products”

Similarly, we are proposing to add the following additional option for plastic casing:

  • Plastic casing, ASTM F480, “Standard Specification for Thermoplastic Well Casing Pipe and Couplings Made in Standard Dimension Ratios (SDR), SCH 40 and SCH 80”

The proposed amendments would also allow for small diameter plastic casing to be used if it meets international standard ASTM F480, “Standard Specification for Thermoplastic Well Casing Pipe and Couplings Made in Standard Dimension Ratios (SDR), SCH 40 and SCH 80”, as it may be amended from time to time. ASTM F480 includes minimal wall thickness for a range of pipe sizes and is a recognized standard used by several other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States.

Allow Placement of Shallow Well Screens for Test Holes and Dewatering Wells

Paragraph 14.4(2)3 of the Wells Regulation currently does not allow a well screen to be installed shallower than 2.5 metres below the ground surface.  In some situations, however, such as for water quality monitoring, or removing of contaminants near to the surface to support Brownfield redevelopment or remediation of contaminated sites, a well screen for a long-term test hole such as a monitoring well or a dewatering well needs to be placed where it intersects the water table, which could be closer to the ground surface than 2.5 metres.

We are proposing to amend the Wells Regulation to allow for the placement of shallow well screens when constructing test holes and dewatering wells, which are not scheduled to be abandoned within 180 days after completion of the structural stage, to be installed at depths of less than 2.5 metres below the ground surface.

Section 14 of the Wells Regulation would still apply, which requires that the person constructing the well shall ensure that any annular space, other than the annular space surrounding a well screen, is sealed to prevent any movement of water, natural gas, contaminants or other material between subsurface formations or between a subsurface formation and the ground surface by means of the annular space.

Timing

We are proposing that the amendments to the Wells Regulation would come into effect upon filing, which is anticipated to be early 2020.

Regulatory Impact Statement

The proposed amendments are expected to make it easier for the well construction industry to operate by reducing regulatory burdens. Overall, the proposed changes will reduce current administrative burden by:

  • clarifying requirements
  • providing more flexibility to well contractors in the choice of materials used for casings
  • aligning insurance requirements to what is available in the marketplace for well contractors

Minimal administrative costs may be incurred to account for time needed by well contractors and well technicians to read and understand the regulatory changes, should they be approved.

The proposed updates will likely benefit well owners, such as municipalities, agri-industry, businesses, institutions and land owners by modernizing requirements for well construction activities.

Supporting materials

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Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.

Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks - Water Policy Section
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
10th floor
Toronto, ON
M4V 1M2
Canada

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Naomi Herold

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Office
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks - Environmental Policy Branch
Address

40 St Clair Avenue West
Floor 10
Toronto, ON
M4V1M2
Canada

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Connect with us

Contact

Naomi Herold

Phone number
Email address
Office
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks - Environmental Policy Branch
Address

40 St Clair Avenue West
Floor 10
Toronto, ON
M4V1M2
Canada

Office phone number

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