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Your Link to Muskoka's Water!


District Municipality of Muskoka 

Muskoka's Water Responsibilities

  • dom logoPublic Health Funding
  • Financially supports Muskoka Tourism
  • District Planning and Economic Development
  • Purification, supply and distribution of water
  • Sewage and septic treatment and sanitary sewage collection
  • Representation on the Board of Health of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and Muskoka Tourism & Marketing Agency

The Engineering and Public Works Department also holds many water related responsibilities.


Protecting Muskoka's Water

When Donald M. Paterson undertook his study in 1969 that recommended the formation of the District of Muskoka he identified the importance of Muskoka as an area that needed to be protected for its significant heritage and recreational values.

The District Municipality of Muskoka encompasses an area of approximately 10,451 km² and is comprised of six Area Municipalities. The 23 member district council is made up of representatives from each of the Area Municipalities.

Muskoka gathers its responsibilities and authority directly from Provincial legislation. The Council's main purpose is to establish policies to serve, protect and enhance the people and the environment of Muskoka. District staff carry out these policies. Standing Committees review issues, hear input from the public and other organizations and formulate recommendations to be considered by the whole of Council. Council's decisions are then implemented through by-laws.

Important decisions about our water are discussed through meetings and are then finalized and carried out through by-laws and program initiatives.


Engineering and Public Works Department

The Engineering and Public Works Department is responsible for:

Water and Sewer Operations ensure that our water is safe to drink and that wastewater is treated before entering our lakes. All plants are operated by certified water and sewage system operators.

Water and Sewer responsibilities include:

Operation and maintenance ofMonitoring of
  • Water and sewage treatment plants
  • Pumping stations
  • Storage facilities
  • Water mains
  • Sewers
  • Fire hydrants


All water sampling, testing and reporting is carried out in compliance with the requirements of Ontario's Drinking Water Protection Regulation 459/00. This legislation ensures clean drinking water with tightened standards, controls, and reporting requirements for distribution systems and water treatment.

Learn more about municipal drinking water systems

Planning and Economic Development Department

They are responsible for:


They administer:


Development Services is responsible for developing and implementing policies for the growth and development of the District Municipality of Muskoka.

Strategic (Long Range) Planning establishes strategic policies and plans for the anticipated future needs of the District Municipality of Muskoka.

Geographic Information Systems produces maps and manages Muskoka GIS data with the help of the participating Area Municipalities. They ensure correct and accurate data.

Economic Development encourages and supports economic growth in the District Municipality of Muskoka. They support Muskoka Tourism and the Muskoka Airport for developing economic growth.

The Muskoka Water Strategy is a framework of integrated and strategic initiatives to protect Muskoka's water resources.


District Official Plan Policy

The District Municipality of Muskoka aims to ensure long term integrity of Muskoka by:

  • Maintaining water quality.
  • Protecting natural areas including both fish and wildlife habitat.
  • Managing the character and visual attractiveness of the landscape.

The District Official Plan addresses many issues that have an impact on our water resources. Key topics include:

Steep Slopes

A steep slope is classified as a slope greater than 20% and is considered a building hazard area. The District Municipality of Muskoka requires that the existing vegetation be sustained in these areas. By maintaining the vegetation along these steep slopes it will reduce erosion and provide a safer and more ecologically balanced shoreline.


The Official Plan policy in Muskoka states that all wetlands are important and should be preserved. Limited development may be permitted within wetlands provided that wetland values can be protected.

Narrow Waterbodies

Under section F.70 of the Offical Plan, a narrow waterbody is defined as being less than 150 m wide for a lake or 30 m wide for a river.

Shoreline Buffers

Shorelines are a link between the water and the land. Shorelines are sometimes called " the ribbon of life " or buffer. Buffers are forested or vegetated strips of land that border creeks, rivers and lakes. This buffer zone is important and essential in a healthy lake's line of defense.

Buffers are important and are essential to a lake because a naturally vegetated shoreline will:

  • Filter runoff generated by surrounding land uses, removing harmful chemicals and nutrients.
  • Protect the lake's edge from erosion caused by waves and ice.
  • Provide critical habitat for aquatic insects, microorganisms, fish, and other animals.
  • Help to maintain a balance in sensitive aquatic ecosystems.

Learn more about shoreline vegetative buffers

Lake System Health

The Lake System Health program is a comprehensive program to protect our water resources. It has evolved from the review of the Muskoka recreational water quality model, which was first implemented by Muskoka District Council in the early 1980s.