Environmental Resources

Environmental Resources Element

Ontario’s environmental resources are an integral part of our maturing City and are valued for the benefits they provide. Appropriately managed, they reduce health risks for residents and workers, lower energy and water costs, safeguard our water assets, and protect our environment. The systems that convey and treat water and waste, generate and distribute energy, promote beneficial air quality, and protect natural resources are essential to Ontario’s health and prosperity. Ontario will manage resources comprehensively, utilizing natural and man-made systems that are both environmentally and economically sustainable.

Meeting growth demands in Ontario, however, requires careful treatment of our land, water, air and energy—not as disposable goods but as essential commodities and capital assets.

Particular focus must be given to improving the conditions and opportunities for those residents that face the highest risk of exposure to pollution and are also burdened by socioeconomic and health issues. These residents are considered to be disadvantaged and live in environmental justice areas. Our Vision and Principles throughout the Policy Plan reinforce the City’s commitment to enabling all persons to enjoy equal access to healthy environments, healthy foods, parks and recreational facilities, and civic engagement opportunities. Although this Element includes a number of policies and a map that addresses the topic of environmental justice, the City has opted for an “environmental justice in all policies” approach to ensure the topic is present alongside the multitude of issues and topics that affect our residents and resources.


The Environmental Resources Element:

  • Defines the ethic to guide management of the City’s environmental resources.
  • Establishes goals for Environmental Infrastructure.
  • Maps environmental justice areas
  • Establishes policies that support system integration, resource conservation and regeneration, energy independence, environmental justice, and healthy communities.


The City believes:

  • Quality design of the physical environment includes vigilant stewardship of the City’s environmental resources.    
  • Efficient backbone infrastructure systems should be multifunctional, strategically sited, sustainably designed, and integrated into the urban fabric.   
  • Commitment to the development and maintenance of our environmental infrastructure ensures community prosperity.  
  • Environmental infrastructure is a critical public investment.   
  • Every resident of Ontario should have the opportunity to live in a community that is healthy and safe.
  • High-quality environmental resources are integral building blocks of the community.    
  • Ecosystems improve public health and contribute significantly to the City’s overall economic vitality.    
  • In order to protect our environmental resources, we must make wise decisions regarding the use of these resources.
  • Protecting environmental resources is the responsibility of individuals, communities, the region, and the world.
ER-1 Water & Wastewater

Given constrained supplies in Southern California, water is a precious commodity that is critical to the City’s ability to achieve its Vision. Ontario gets water from four sources: groundwater, imported water, recycled water and local precipitation. Ontario’s potable water supply comes predominantly from a combination of groundwater and imported sources. Recycled water is available for non-potable purposes in portions of the City. Some urban run-off is captured and used for recharging the aquifer, but most travels through the City during storm events via natural and man-made systems to Prado Dam. Protection of ground and surface water quality is important to the continued availability of the resource. Wholesale recycled water is available through the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA) for distribution by the City.

The City maintains a wastewater collection system and contracts with the IEUA for wastewater treatment. IEUA also operates an industrial non-reclaimable wastewater system, which runs through Ontario and is available to our industries.

Ontario recognizes that all water sources are not of equal quality, but all water has value and the water used should match the water quality required for the use. Recycled water, for example, should be used for landscape irrigation. The City’s approach to water resources is to conserve when possible, reclaim and reuse where feasible, and ensure “the right water for the right use.”

ER-1 A reliable and cost-effective system that permits the City to manage its diverse water resources and needs.

Local Water Supply. We increase local water supplies to reduce our dependence on imported water. New and redevelopment projects are aligned with our available water supply and/or to enhance our available water supply.


Matching Supply to Use. We match water supply and quality to the appropriate use.

ER-1.3 Conservation and Sustainable Water Supply. We work with regional water providers and users to conserve water and ensure sustainable local water supplies as more frequent droughts reduce long term local and regional water availability
ER-1.4 Supply-Demand Balance. We require that available water supply and demands be balanced.
ER-1.5 Water Resource Management. Environmental justice areas are prioritized as we coordinate with local agencies to protect water quality, prevent pollution, address existing contamination, and remediate contaminated surface water and groundwater.
ER-1.6 Urban Run-off Quantity. We encourage the use of low impact development strategies, including green infrastructure, to intercept run-off, slow the discharge rate, increase infiltration, and ultimately reduce discharge volumes to traditional storm drain systems.
ER-1.7 Urban Run-off Quality. We require the control and management of urban run-off, consistent with Regional Water Quality Control Board regulations.
ER-1.8 Wastewater Management. We require the management of wastewater discharge and collection consistent with waste discharge requirements adopted by the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
ER-2 Solid Waste & Recycling

Ontario provides solid waste collection and disposal services. For solid waste materials that cannot be reduced at the source, the City must take steps to maximize recycling and composting to ensure efficient collection and safe, environmentally sound disposal. If not recycled or composted, solid waste takes up landfill space that is very limited. Waste materials cause environmental impacts at each stage of their life cycle. There are environmental and economic impacts associated with the manufacture, transport, sale, disposal, and recycling of solid waste.

The treatment and disposal of solid waste traditionally creates significant unusable by-products and energy demands. The first approach to reduce the City’s waste stream should be to reduce the generation of waste and find ways waste can be reused and recycled. New technologies and approaches can be used to reduce these impacts through recycling of construction, consumer, green, and liquid waste and utilizing these waste products to generate renewable energy that reduce impacts on landfills. There is value in reducing the City’s waste stream to as low as possible. Waste by-products that are channeled into a revenue stream reduce the demand upon facilities and reduce the use of non-renewable materials. The City cannot achieve its growth vision without decreasing waste by-products and freeing up capacity in landfills. Natural ecosystems efficiently breakdown waste by-products and are often more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally sensitive than man-made systems. While natural systems may be the optimal choice, the City recognizes the need to integrate both natural and manmade systems and processes to manage waste.

ER-2 A cost effective, integrated waste management system that meets or exceeds state and federal recycling and waste diversion mandates.

Waste Diversion. We shall meet or exceed AB 939 requirements.


Hazardous and Electronic Wastes. We prohibit the disposal of hazardous and electronic waste into the municipal waste stream pursuant to state law.

ER-2.3 Purchase Products Made from Recycled Materials. We purchase recycled-content products where it is cost effective.
ER-3 Energy

Local conditions such as land use patterns, transportation options, and individual consumer consumption decisions impact energy use within the City. How we build neighborhoods, and construct and operate the buildings within them, can reduce per capita energy demand, increase conservation opportunities, and incorporate alternative energy sources. Finding ways to reduce the energy demands and encourage the development of renewable energy resources within the City can not only reduce our reliance upon non-renewable energy resources but can also make the City more ecologically and economically sustainable.

ER-3 Cost-effective and reliable energy system sustained through a combination of low impact buildings, site and neighborhood energy conservation, and diverse sources of energy generation that collectively helps to minimize the region’s carbon footprint.

Conservation Strategy. We require conservation as the first strategy to be employed to meet applicable energy-saving standards.


Green Development– Communities. We encourage the use of the LEED Neighborhood Development rating system, or similar mechanism, to guide the planning and development of all new communities.

ER-3.3 Building and Site Design. We require new construction to incorporate energy efficient building and site design strategies, which could include appropriate solar orientation, maximum use of natural daylight, passive solar, and natural ventilation.
ER-3.4 Green Development– Public Buildings. We require all new and substantially renovated City buildings in excess of 10,000 square feet achieve a LEED Silver Certification standard, as determined by the U.S. Green Building Council.
ER-3.5 Fuel-Efficient and Alternative Energy Vehicles and Equipment. We require purchase and use vehicles and equipment that are fuel efficient and meet or surpass state emissions requirements and/or use renewable sources of energy.
ER-3.6 Generation- Renewable Sources. We promote the use of renewable energy sources (e.g., solar, wind, biomass) in public and private sector development.
ER-4 Air Quality

Even though air quality is a regional issue, Ontario has the opportunity to demonstrate its leadership by striving for the healthiest air quality possible and reducing pollution sources within the City. Better indoor and outdoor air quality for Ontario and the air basin will improve the quality of life of residents, workers and visitors, decrease health care costs and make Ontario more prosperous by making the City a more desirable place to be. Most of the air pollution within Ontario is a result of the City’s location within an inland valley where the predominant wind pattern flows from Orange and Los Angeles counties and backs up against the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains.

The City is home to major transportation goods movement infrastructure – Los Angeles/Ontario International Airport, major interstate highways, and three railway lines – which are major sources of air pollution. This combination of geographical factors and pollution sources contribute significantly to the region’s failure to meet several federal and state standards.

The City of Ontario expects to double its population by 2050. We intend to develop strategies to minimize the air quality impacts of this growth. Of particular concern are the City’s future impacts on Global Warming which is caused by an accumulation of Greenhouse Gases (GHG).

ER-4 Improved indoor and outdoor air quality and reduced locally generated pollutant emissions.

Land Use. We reduce GHG and other local pollutant emissions through compact, mixed use, and transit-oriented development and development that improves the regional jobs-housing balance.


Sensitive Land Uses. We prohibit the future siting of sensitive land uses within the distances defined by the California Air Resources Board for specific source categories, without sufficient mitigation.

ER-4.3 Greenhouse Gases (GHG) Emissions Reductions. We will reduce GHG emissions in accordance with regional, state, and federal regulations.
ER-4.4 Indoor Air Quality. We will comply with State Green Building Codes relative to indoor air quality. We seek funding to improve indoor air quality for households with poor indoor air quality, with priority for lower income households in environmental justice areas.
ER-4.5 Transportation. We promote mass transit and non-motorized mobility options (walking, biking) to reduce air pollutant emissions.
ER-4.6 Particulate Matter. We support efforts to reduce particulate matter to meet State and Federal Clean Air Standards.
ER-4.7 Other Agency Collaboration. We collaborate with other agencies within the South Coast Air Basin to improve regional air quality at the emission source, with a particular focus on sources that affect environmental justice areas in Ontario.
ER-4.8 Tree Planting. We protect healthy trees within the City and plant new trees to increase carbon sequestration and help the regional/local air quality. We expand the tree canopy in environmental justice areas to enhance air quality and reduce the “heat island” effect.
ER-4.9 New Localized Air Pollution Sources Near Existing Sensitive Receptors. We require new developments to conduct a Health Risk Assessment for land uses that generate more than 100 trucks per day or 40 trucks per day by trucks operating transportation refrigeration units (TRU's) within 1,000 feet from sensitive land uses (California Health and Safety Code § 42705.5(a)(5)). If the health risk assessment determines the new development poses health hazards that increase the incremental cancer risk above the threshold established by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), we will only approve permits upon the condition that adequate mitigation measures are proposed and implemented for potential impacts on the sensitive uses around the site and along the route within Ontario taken by the trucks to and from freeways. We require new developments that must perform a health risk assessment to conduct additional public outreach by sending notifications in multiple languages to all residents living within 500 feet, and encourage hosting a public meeting.
ER-5 Biological, Mineral & Agricultural Resources

Developed as the “Model Irrigation Colony,” Ontario has a rich agricultural heritage. The northern portion of the City was farmed with grapes, citrus, olives and other fruit tree crops. The southern portion of the City, has been used predominantly for dairy farms for over half a century. Other types of agricultural uses include cultivated crops, fallow fields and plant nurseries. Until the mid-1990s, southern Ontario was part of the San Bernardino County Dairy Preserve. Some of the City’s dairy preserve properties are still under Williamson Act contracts. The City of Ontario adopted a right to farm ordinance which recognizes the right of agricultural operations to continue. However, increased environmental regulations are causing existing dairies to relocate out of the region, resulting in a continued decline in the long-term viability of agricultural operations in southern Ontario.

Rare and/or endangered species that have the potential to occur in Ontario include the Delhi Sands Flower, the Loving Fly, and the San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat. Existing habitat for these species is of poor quality and/or is limited to isolated pockets. As the City further develops, there may be opportunities to integrate suitable habitat for sensitive species into new developments and/or participate in regional efforts for the conservation of high-quality habitat, thereby expanding and creating new habitat corridors.

There are no permitted mining operations in the City. According to the Department of Conservation, significant mineral resources within Ontario are limited to construction aggregate. Areas identified with potential mineral resources have been developed with urban uses and are not suitable for mineral resource extraction.

ER-5 Protected high value habitat and farming and mineral resource extraction activities that are compatible with adjacent development.

Habitat Conservation Areas. We support the protection of biological resources through the establishment, restoration, and conservation of high-quality habitat areas.


Entitlement and Permitting Process. We comply with state and federal regulations regarding protected species.

ER-5.3 Right to Farm. We support the right of existing farms to continue their operations within the Ontario Ranch.
ER-5.4 Transition of Farms. We protect both existing farms and sensitive uses around them as agricultural areas transition to urban uses.
ER-5.5 Mining Operations. We prohibit future mining operations where the resource extraction activities are incompatible with existing or proposed adjacent land uses.

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