Protect It at the Source

Child drinking water out of a glass.

Is Your Drinking Water At Risk?

Home water filtration systems are only one line of defense against contaminated drinking water from surface or groundwater sources. Understanding the risks and taking the right actions to protect drinking water at the source will better protect the health of you, your family and your community.

The water that flows from your tap comes from a natural water source, such as a lake, river or aquifer. It may flow through a municipal water treatment plant or directly from a dug or drilled well. Regardless of where it comes from, certain activities can pose a threat to drinking water safety.

Understand the Risks

Some drinking water sources are more vulnerable than others. Source water vulnerability depends on various factors, including source type (groundwater or surface water), location, geographical conditions (like slope, vegetation and soil type) and weather events, like rainfall.

Human activities can also increase the risk of contamination. The handling of manure, fuel storage, application of road salt, and improperly constructed, unmaintained or abandoned wells can pose a risk, as do poorly maintained septic systems.

Climate change could compound these risks due to the possibility of more extreme weather events, like intense rainstorms. Flooding can damage septic systems, resulting in localized groundwater contamination. If your well casing is old or cracked, polluted rainwater runoff could contaminate your well.

Understand the Consequences

Clean, safe drinking water is important. Source water contamination can affect the health of you and your family and entire communities. If contamination occurs due to negligence, private landowners could be held liable for harm caused and clean-up costs. It can be expensive and sometimes even impossible to decontaminate a water supply. It’s far easier to prevent contamination from happening in the first place.

Reduce the Risks

The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks has created the Best Practices for Source Water Protection guide to help landowners understand source water vulnerability, assess their risk and identify and take action to protect their drinking water supply.

Wellhead surrounded by gravel next to a house and lawn.
Well upgrade funded by CVC’s Landowner Action Fund.

Some of the actions you can take today include upgrading or decommissioning old wells to prevent contamination, protecting wells from runoff containing road salt, fuel, pet waste or fertilizers, and maintaining your septic system by having it pumped and inspected every three to five years.

Your Countryside Stewardship Team

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