Drinking water – Frequently asked questions
Do I need to filter or boil my water?
You do not need to filter or boil your tap water. Be aware of door-to-door sales representatives making false claims about the City’s tap water being unsafe.
In some cases, the use of a water treatment device might be justified or could improve the aesthetic quality of your tap water:
If you are served by one of Ottawa’s municipal well systems, you may want to consider an in-home treatment device (such as a water softener) for aesthetic reasons.
If you have a home with a lead water service pipe or lead in your internal plumbing, you may also want to consider using an in-home filter to remove lead from your tap water.
Is the manufacture and sale of water treatment devices currently regulated?
The manufacture and sale of water treatment devices for home use is not regulated. However, the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) in consultation with Health has developed voluntary performance standards for water treatment devices and certification by the NSF is the only guarantee that a device can meet specified performance standards for removal of specific contaminants
drinking water hard or soft?
Water hardness is caused by the presence of calcium and magnesium minerals in water. water supply is considered very soft due to the natural softness of the source water. Hard water does not pose any health concerns, however it can lead to scale deposits on hot surfaces such as kettles and hot water tanks.
Why does my water have an “earthy” or “musty” odour?
water system draws from the River, which has a natural, slightly “earthy” or “musty” odour. This odour is caused by trace levels of natural organic substances produced by plants and algae in the river. The water purification process removes most of these substances, but some individuals may still notice an odour, particularly when tap water is warm
How to Test the Water in Your Fish Tank
In a newly set up aquarium, water testing is critical to avoid fish loss as ammonia and nitrite rapidly rise. In an established aquarium, water testing is important to ensure the continued health of your fish.
Test kits should be considered an important part of the operating expense associated with keeping an aquarium. If you cannot afford test kits or feel uncomfortable testing water yourself, check with your fish shop to see what they charge for doing water tests. Some offer free water testing, or at least one free test each month, or will quote you a flat fee for monthly testing. Compare their charges against the actual cost of test kits.
Ammonia, pH, nitrite, and nitrate water test kits are by far the most integral to aquarium water upkeep. Hardness and alkalinity tests are useful to establish what your levels are, but don’t warrant purchasing an entire kit for them unless you have special needs such as a planted tank. Phosphate is worth testing for if you have algae problems. All testing should be recorded in a log or journal so that you have a record of what is happening over time.
Ammonia will be elevated during the start-up cycle in a new tank, but can also be elevated in mature tanks if the water is not changed regularly, filters are not kept clean, if the tank is overstocked or overfed, or if medication is used that disrupts the biological cycle.
The acid-base balance of the water, measured as pH, is the most frequent cause of fish stress, which can ultimately lead to fish loss. It is usually the most overlooked parameter. Fish cannot tolerate sudden changes in pH; even a change of 0.2 can result in stress or death if it occurs suddenly.
How to test if your water is safe for drinking
Access to safe drinking water is critical — but how much do you really know about your water? Of course, it’s supposed to be clear and odorless, but there’s a lot more to learn about what’s actually in it. It might have excess amounts of chlorine, copper or iron, for example. Or there could be a nitrite, lead or bacteria problem, depending on how the water is sourced and where it’s stored. There’s just no good way to know how pure your water is by look and taste. If you want hard facts about what’s going into your body with every sip, you need to test your drinking water.
I usually drink water from my refrigerator, which has a built-in filter; theoretically, that should be better than tap water, right? But testing showed that the fridge water had the exact same particle count as my tap water. Granted, the fridge filter was old and needed replacement, but the test gave me the information I needed and encouraged me to be more diligent about swapping out the filter. Still, the test results prove the water I’m drinking isn’t as pure as I’d like it to be, so I’m looking at additional solutions to make sure my family is drinking high-quality, clean water.
With a few cheap products and minimal time, you, too, can test your water. The process is quick, easy and affordable. Whether you drink water from your tap, well, fridge, bottle or filter, you might be just as surprised as I was.
HERE’S HOW TO TELL IF YOU HAVE LEAD PIPES IN YOUR HOME
Want to know if you might have lead in your home’s pipes and faucets?
Experts tell us that “there is no safe level of lead exposure.” This stuff is just not good for you, especially for developing children and pregnant mothers. The Centers for Disease Control say that even at low levels, lead has been “shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement.”
There are several potential sources of lead in your home plumbing that can get into your drinking water:
Service line connecting the water main to your house
Solder in your plumbing
Older brass faucets and valves
To really know what’s going on, it’s a good idea to have your water tested. You can call your drinking water utility or your county health department to find out how to test your water.
Your Service Line
The drinking water service line coming from the water main into your house is usually in the basement.
The first trick—without even having to touch it or do anything—if you see that the service line is a dark matte gray color, that’s usually a good tip that that is a lead service line.
Next, scrape the service line with a screwdriver, if it is lead, the metal would be soft and turn really shiny.
If your supply line turns a brownish, copper color, that means it is a copper supply line.
Aside from lead or copper, you can also have a plastic or galvanized steel service line coming into your house. If it’s steel, a magnet would stick to it. If it’s lead or copper, a magnet would not stick to it.
Water quality is one of the most important factors in a healthy ecosystem. Clean water supports a diversity of plants and wildlife. Though it may seem unrelated at first, actions on land affect the quality of our water. excessive nutrients from fertilizers, and sediment frequently get carried into local lakes and rivers via runoff from urban areas or agricultural fields. This lesson considers the factors that influence water quality by observing and evaluating several water samples.
2-PS1-1 Matter and its Interactions: Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different samples of water based on their chemical and observable properties including temperature, pH and turbidity.
2-PS1-2 Matter and its Interactions: Analyze data from the testing of the water samples to determine which materials have the properties that are suited for certain purposes such as drinking, swimming or cooking.
Develop criteria for the quality of water and understand that there is more to water quality than “meets the eye.”
Engage in a sample of water quality tests used by scientists.
Explain how water quality in both groundwater and surface systems is impacted by land use decisions.
Classify solutions as acidic or basic, given their pH, and classify substances by their chemical properties (flammability, pH, acid-base indicators).
Use tools and equipment appropriate to scientific investigations and make accurate measurements with appropriate units.
Identify the need for evidence in making scientific decisions and then use data and samples as evidence to separate fact from opinion.
Scientists measure a variety of properties to determine water quality. These include temperature, acidity (pH), dissolved solids (specific conductance), particulate matter (turbidity), dissolved oxygen, hardness and suspended sediment. Each reveals something different about the health of a water body.
The result of a single measurement, however, is actually less important than monitoring changes over time. For example, if you measure the pH of the creek behind your house and find that it is 5.5, you might think it is acidic. But a pH of 5.5 might be “normal” for that creek. If the pH or the turbidity of your creek begins to change, however, something may be happening (probably upstream) that is affecting water quality. Taking routine measurements at scheduled intervals allows you to monitor overall changes in water quality.