By Mark Nelson — President, Nelson Water

With more than 30 years’ experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Mark Nelson is a Class 1 Drinking-Water Operator and a CBWA (Canadian Bottled Water Association) Certified Plant Operator. As founder and president of Nelson Water in Ottawa, Mark focuses on dealing with challenging water treatment system designs for problem water. He also heads the largest water bottling plant in the city of Ottawa with a delivery network throughout the Valley.

While many of us consider the first world immune to unsafe drinking water issues, the recent press attention of the water crisis in the First Nations highlights that we all need to be aware that we are drinking clean, safe water, regardless of where we live. Unfortunately, thousands of contaminants make their way into drinking water supplies, and the water infrastructure across Canada may not always be able to keep up with our water purification needs. So, here we will explore the potential contaminants in your water to ensure that your drinking water is safe.

How Contaminants Enter Our Water Supplies

Contaminants can enter our drinking water in a number of ways. Some contaminants are naturally occurring, but these are often filtered out during the water treatment process. Unless you have a private water well, you don’t tend to need to worry about naturally occurring minerals contaminating your water supply.

A more common way for contaminants to impact drinking water quality is from particles from inside the pipes. There are miles of pipes connecting your home to your local water treatment facility and if the pipes have started to decay or there is a break in the line, contaminants can be introduced into the water.

Water supplies can also be compromised by agricultural or industrial run-off, as the chemicals pass into the groundwater through irrigation or rainfall. Unfortunately, some chemicals are not entirely removed during treatment, which allows some traces to remain in drinking water.

Ensuring Your Drinking Water is Safe

If you have concerns about drinking water that may be contaminated, there are a number of ways to ensure peace of mind. The most affordable and simplest method is a home water analysis kit. These kits include colour changing strips that react if certain contaminants are detected. There are kits that are designed for a variety of contaminants including chlorine, nitrates, lead, pesticides, and bacteria.

If you have a private well, you’ll need to ensure that you test the water regularly. The rules governing municipal supplies do not apply to any private wells, so homeowners need to assume full responsibility. Experts recommend well water testing at least each year, but it is a good idea to test more regularly if there have been prior contamination issues. You should also test if a member of your household is nursing or pregnant, or if anyone in your home starts feeling unwell.

Most professional labs can test for many of the common potential water contaminants including chloride, arsenic, fluoride, iron, mercury, nitrates, radium, and heavy metals. Laboratory testing can also check the pH levels, TDS, and water hardness.

Final Barrier Protection

One of the simplest ways to ensure your drinking water is pure is to consider installing a final barrier of protection. There is a variety of domestic water treatment systems including countertop and whole house systems that can eliminate contaminants to provide pure, clean and safe drinking water. A professional water treatment specialist can help you to test your water and tailor a treatment solution to offer you and your family the best quality drinking water.