Ontario Clean Water Agency
The Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) is a Crown agency of the Province of Ontario that provides operation, maintenance and management services for more than 450 water and wastewater treatment facilities in the province.
OCWA was created in 1993 by the NDP government of Premier Bob Rae under the Ontario Capital Investment Plan Act and initially took over provincial ownership of 153 water-treatment plants and 77 sewage-treatment facilities. It also operated 116 municipally owned water and sewage facilities.
By 1996, it had 800 employees and held contracts to operate 429 facilities in the province, comprising 25 per cent of Ontario's water-treatment plants and 57 per cent of the wastewater-treatment plants. In October of that year, the Progressive Conservative government under Premier Mike Harris, which came to power in 1995, announced its plans to turn ownership of the facilities over to the municipalities and privatize OCWA as an environmental consulting firm.
Ownership of the facilities was transferred to the municipalities, but OCWA was not sold. It was transformed into a management services organization and in 1998 won what was then Canada's largest water and wastewater operations and maintenance contract—a 10-year, $213 million deal to operate the South Peel system. By 2000, OCWA operated and maintained more than 300 municipally-owned water and sewage treatment facilities on behalf of about 200 Ontario municipalities.
In May 2000, an outbreak of E. coli contamination occurred in the water system of Walkerton, Ontario. In the aftermath of the disaster and the ensuing reforms to water treatment, the OCWA was put in charge of the cleanup of the water supply system of the town. This included a complete flushing of all the pipes in Walkerton, including those located in every building in the town.
- "Crown agency to build new roads," Toronto Star, February 9, 1993, p.A1.
- "8,000 new jobs from water plan; Ontario 'can't wait' for feds," The Hamilton Spectator, February 12, 1993, p.A3.
- "Minister says water agency to be sold," Toronto Star, October 17, 1996
- "Drinking water warning issued; Province's plan to shift costs to cities attacked," Toronto Star, December 4, 1996, p.A2
- "OCWA beats private sector for Peel deal," Daily Commercial News and Construction Record, December 14, 1998, p.A1
- "Key Ontario water agency listed up for grabs despite government denials," Canadian Press NewsWire, June 8, 2000
- The Canadian Encyclopedia, "Walkerton Water Crisis Follow-up"