Water Law

Water is an essential natural resource that is regulated by Canadian federal, provincial, and municipal water resource laws, including under Canada’s Fisheries Act, provincial safe drinking water statutes, and municipal by-laws to name a few. Upon prosecution and conviction, unlawful discharges to waters result in some of the highest environmental penalties and fines in Canada. Lawsuits may also result.

A pivotal event for the regulation of water in Canada was E. coli contamination of Walkerton, Ontario’s drinking water source in May 2000, causing thousands to become sick and seven people to die. The O’Connor inquiry into this tragic event led to strengthened drinking water laws and standards across Canada including the protection of sources of drinking water. A remaining challenge across Canada is the elimination of drinking water advisories in Indigenous communities.

Water law expertise

At Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers, our lawyers are knowledgeable about and assist clients in navigating the myriad of laws that govern drinking water, groundwater, surface water, wastewater, process water, and sewer discharges. We assist with developing policies, obtaining approvals, ensuring compliance, responding to regulatory orders, and defending regulatory prosecutions under municipal, provincial, and federal laws. 

Our environmental lawyers assist clients with:

  • water and discharge approvals, permits and licences, and compliance with terms and conditions
  • compliance with municipal by-laws and agreements
  • drafting watershed legislation and policies for water use and protection
  • source protection policies and plans for implementation
  • municipal drainage matters
  • representing developers, municipalities, and conservation authorities in all manner of water issues and disputes before administrative tribunals and Courts
  • how best to address the presence of contaminants in waters including pesticides, industrial discharges, and emerging contaminants such as PFAS and PFOS
  • appealing regulatory orders, and defending regulatory prosecutions involving water laws.

Contact our environmental lawyers today

Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers has offices in Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto, and Yellowknife. Our lawyers are called to the Bar in Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Ontario.

To speak with an Environmental lawyer, contact us today.