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What’s in the Tap Water Across Canada?

Canadian tap water is pure and perfect, right? Well, not really. While it certainly rivals the quality of the U.S.’ supply, regulations here are less stringent which means contaminates in the pipes of the northern part of the continent may not be as quickly identified as those in the water of their southern neighbours.

The number of chemicals and contaminates that live in tap water are vast. Even in Canada there are issues with waterborne illnesses. Between 1974 and 2001 Canada reported 288 outbreaks of disease caused by ingesting contaminated water and the Canadian government estimates that it is the source of 90 deaths and 90,000 cases of illness a year. If water is life, then having it be as pure as possible to sustain it is vital.

Canada pays the price

In the year 2000, seven Walkerton, Ontario residents died and 2,300 were infected because of the E. Coli virus that had contaminated their water. The factors that led to this were physical, bureaucratic and improper practices. The North Battleford, Saskatchewan water treatment plant failure led to the 5800-7100 residents falling ill in the spring of 2001 and as recently as this year, the aboriginal residents of Kashechewan, Ontario were evacuated due to concerns over contaminated water and the health issues this could cause with the threat of flooding. These tragedies are not going unnoticed and they are prompting more awareness and action to ensure safer tap water for all residents today.

Provinces and territories taking care of their own

Tap water absorbs both the good and the bad particles that flow through the same pipes. Canada’s diverse landscape means that the quality of the tap water varies. For example, those areas closer to the Great Lakes are experiencing high concentration of industrial chemicals in their water that needs to be purified while provinces closer to the coast may experience a higher concentration of sodium due to the salt water. While the issues that face Canada’s water supply are far less egregious than that of the rest of the world, it’s still a concern.

Something to look out for

Canada is home to 7% of all of the world’s renewable fresh water. However, the tap water that flows through the pipes carries a variety of things in them that can infect this liquid. It is just the nature of how tap water works, no matter how water rich a nation may or may not be. Health Canada has guidelines for 75 substances in the tap water. Here are just two of the most common that are important to avoid.


This chemical is used all over the world to treat dangerous bacteria and pathogens. It has been used as a way to kill disease for centuries, although many consumers only think of it as something to put in the pool to clean it. Because of its potent nature, the purpose it once served to destroy certain contaminates in the water has changed. This is a chemical that can cause more detrimental health risks in those who imbibe it than originally thought. The cancer risk in people who drink chlorinated water is 93% higher than in people who don’t drink it.


People take their pills with water and while that drug is absorbed into their system, for the most part, some of it is flushed out when they urinate. The water from the toilet is cleansed at the water treatment plant, but some of the drug residue remains and gets into the tap water. Considering the staggering number and the different effects of each drug, it’s important to be mindful of how they may infect the tap.


Ultimately, tap water as a drinking source is detrimental to the health of the public. Spring water is the best go-to and one that will always ensure a healthy basis from which to gain all hydration and optimum benefits for a stronger, healthier body.