Water supply master plan

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

The City is updating its 2014 Water Supply Master Plan (WSMP) to review our drinking water sources and identify priorities for our water supply, including where our drinking water will come from in the future.

The WSMP provides short-, mid- and long-term water supply options to ensure we can continue to meet the demands of Guelph’s growing population. We’ll investigate existing and new water supply options--including new groundwater and surface water sources in and outside of Guelph--and consider things like water quality and quantity, climate conditions and change, economic factors and relevant regulations.

When we’re done, we’ll have identified constraints and opportunities related to our existing drinking water supply. We’ll also have evaluated and prioritized individual projects to increase the capacity of our existing drinking water supply.

Your input is an important part of this process.

Water Supply Master Plan project update
The City’s Water Supply Master Plan is well underway. Here is an update on the Master Plan progress and phase 1 engagement results, including the February 13 open house and survey.

What we’ve heard so far
On February 13, we invited Guelph residents to the first open house to discuss and gather feedback on the Water Supply Master Plan update, including estimates of our future water supply requirements based on Guelph’s population growth, challenges Guelph is facing and proposed water supply alternative solutions and evaluation criteria. Guelph residents also had the opportunity to take an online survey.

Here are some of the common themes the Guelph community identified as important to them through the open house discussion and survey:

• Prioritizing water conservation.

• Protecting the natural environment.

• Controlling groundwater impacts from large water users.

• Limiting impacts to Guelph’s local wildlife.

Changes to the Master Plan process
In August 2020, the province released an amendment to A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, which extends the planning horizon for population and employment growth from the year 2041 to 2051. This has implications for the analysis of Guelph’s future water supply requirements and will be considered in the identification and evaluation of water supply alternatives for the Water Supply Master Plan update.

What’s next?
We’re now working on phase two of the update process, which includes identifying alternative solutions to Guelph’s future water supply requirements to 2051 and evaluating each alternative. We will be reaching back out to the community in early 2021 with more information and additional engagement opportunities, including the second community open house.

Visit the Water Supply Master Plan project page for updates and future opportunities to have your say.


The City is updating its 2014 Water Supply Master Plan (WSMP) to review our drinking water sources and identify priorities for our water supply, including where our drinking water will come from in the future.

The WSMP provides short-, mid- and long-term water supply options to ensure we can continue to meet the demands of Guelph’s growing population. We’ll investigate existing and new water supply options--including new groundwater and surface water sources in and outside of Guelph--and consider things like water quality and quantity, climate conditions and change, economic factors and relevant regulations.

When we’re done, we’ll have identified constraints and opportunities related to our existing drinking water supply. We’ll also have evaluated and prioritized individual projects to increase the capacity of our existing drinking water supply.

Your input is an important part of this process.

Water Supply Master Plan project update
The City’s Water Supply Master Plan is well underway. Here is an update on the Master Plan progress and phase 1 engagement results, including the February 13 open house and survey.

What we’ve heard so far
On February 13, we invited Guelph residents to the first open house to discuss and gather feedback on the Water Supply Master Plan update, including estimates of our future water supply requirements based on Guelph’s population growth, challenges Guelph is facing and proposed water supply alternative solutions and evaluation criteria. Guelph residents also had the opportunity to take an online survey.

Here are some of the common themes the Guelph community identified as important to them through the open house discussion and survey:

• Prioritizing water conservation.

• Protecting the natural environment.

• Controlling groundwater impacts from large water users.

• Limiting impacts to Guelph’s local wildlife.

Changes to the Master Plan process
In August 2020, the province released an amendment to A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, which extends the planning horizon for population and employment growth from the year 2041 to 2051. This has implications for the analysis of Guelph’s future water supply requirements and will be considered in the identification and evaluation of water supply alternatives for the Water Supply Master Plan update.

What’s next?
We’re now working on phase two of the update process, which includes identifying alternative solutions to Guelph’s future water supply requirements to 2051 and evaluating each alternative. We will be reaching back out to the community in early 2021 with more information and additional engagement opportunities, including the second community open house.

Visit the Water Supply Master Plan project page for updates and future opportunities to have your say.


Thank you for your interest in the Water Supply Master Plan. We invite you learn more by visiting the project page. We will aim to answer your question within five days. 

Q&A

loader image
Didn't receive confirmation?
Seems like you are already registered, please provide the password. Forgot your password? Create a new one now.
  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Can you explain the reasoning for using demand forecasts of the Guelph population by 2041? The design period for municipal distribution systems is 40 years (section B.2.2.4 of the Region of Waterloo and Area Municipalities Design Guidelines and Supplemental Specifications for Municipal Services). While water supply and water distribution are separate entities, a disconnect of 19 years in design considerations for these closely related entities seems likely to result in large margins of error.

    M.R. asked 2 months ago

    Initially, the Water Supply Master Plan (WSMP) update project included the evaluation of water supply demands to 2041. In August 2020, the Province of Ontario released Amendment 1 to A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe that extended the planning horizon in the Plan from 2041 to 2051. The WSMP update will adopt this change and consider growth and associated water supply requirements to 2051. 

     With respect to your question about planning the water distribution system within the City, this topic is not within the scope of the WSMP update project.  We referred your question to the Water and Wastewater Servicing Master Plan project team and they have provided the response provided below.  For any further questions related to water distribution in the City, we encourage you to contact the project team directly (arun.hindupur@guelph.ca or sam.ziemann@c3water.com)

    The primary purpose and benefit of creating a common set of design guidelines and contract specifications such as those referenced is to facilitate the design and construction of municipal services by consultants and contractors that work in more than one municipality to reduce the cost of infrastructure. These design guidelines are updated from time to time based on various factors such as technological advancement within the industry.

     Municipalities are required to plan for population and employment growth to a certain time horizon as per provincial legislation (https://www.ontario.ca/page/growth-planning-ontario). This is more of an infrastructure planning context as opposed to infrastructure design or construction context. Typically infrastructure is designed within 5 years of its construction date and whatever the applicable design standards are available at that time would be used to inform that design.  Infrastructure that will be built in 2031, 2041 or 2051 will utilize the best available design standards at that time. Overall sizing for this infrastructure will be determined through the master plan process which is typically updated every 10 years or so, but specific design considerations are dealt with through a detailed design process closer to the actual construction/implementation of the infrastructure/capital improvements.


  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Do you have plans on how to mitigate the hard water problem that has caused untold damage to the city's pipe network, and makes the water taste awful? Any plans to screen future water sources for their mineral levels or install a treatment system?

    Victoria Da Silva asked 3 months ago

    Due to the geology of the City’s groundwater source, water supplied by the City is considered “hard”, as noted in your inquiry. The water hardness is caused by the concentration of naturally occurring calcium carbonate, which may form scale on plumbing, if private side conditioning of the water is not completed through a water softener or other device. In supplying water to customers the City of Guelph treats its drinking water in compliance with the Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standard, which does not require mandatory treatment to remove water hardness. This treatment regime is common of municipal groundwater treated throughout Ontario, if not Canada, due to the significant capital and operating costs to build and operate such systems and significant financial impacts to customer user rates to fund such endeavours.

    To address aesthetic issues with water hardness, close to 90% of property owners in our community have elected to install, operate and maintain a water softener at their own expense with suitable results. Should your place of residence have a water softener already, you may want to engage a plumber to ensure its proper operation. Otherwise, if your place of residence does not have a water softener you might want to consider having this technology installed to address the taste issue you have noted in your correspondence.

    With respect to the noted damage to the City’s distribution network, we are not aware of this specific issue.

    Detailed field testing of potential future groundwater supply will include water sampling and laboratory analysis to determine the chemical characteristics of the water, including calcium carbonate concentration (hardness).   Future groundwater obtained from the main bedrock aquifer below the City will have similar hardness to the current water supplied by the City.  Due to the cost constraint outlined above, the City does not plan to treat current or future water supplies for hardness.

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    How have the projected future water demands been considered with the current and future capacity of the Guelph WWTP? Realistically, it seems unlikely that water reclamation efforts would be implemented fast and vastly enough to keep up with the growing water demand (and consequent increased wastewater production).

    M.R. asked 10 months ago

    The Water Supply Master Plan is integrated with the Wastewater Master Plan through the water demand forecasts. The water demand forecasts are based on the number of people in Guelph by 2041 and how much water they will use during the same time period. 

    The water demand forecast is used in the Water Supply Master Plan to determine how much new water is needed and when it is needed in the future. Similarly, the water demand forecast is used as an input into the Wastewater Master Plan since most of the water demand ends up as wastewater. The Wastewater Master Plan then identifies alternatives to address the future wastewater treatment requirements as well as improvements and upgrades to ensure that there is existing wastewater treatment capacity when it is needed. 

    The Wastewater Master Plan will be updated in 2020, similarly to the Water Supply Master Plan. Interested persons should watch the City News for more information on the Wastewater Master Plan.