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Drinking Water

Topics: Drinking Water

In Canada, most people have access to safe and secure drinking water. Nevertheless, lapses in management of drinking water safety may lead to waterborne illness outbreaks, which can lead to high personal and economic tolls as a large number of people may be exposed to disease agents simultaneously. Investigation of waterborne illness outbreaks is challenging due to rarity of occurrence, potential multiple transmission routes, and underreporting of gastrointestinal illnesses.  

Drinking water systems can be defined by ownership, type of population served, or number of connections to the system. Ownership includes privately owned (provided solely to people who own the system), semi-public (privately owned systems that provide water to the public), or public municipal systems. Health Canada defines large, small, very small, and micro systems as ones that serve more than 5,000, between 501 and 5000 people, between 26 and 500 people, and up to and including 25 people respectively.   The quality of the drinking water source and the number of connections dictate the type and level of water treatment required. 

Sources of drinking water can include groundwater from confined aquifers, surface water such as rivers or lakes, or a mix of both. While groundwater is generally considered to be the safer source of drinking water due to the lower likelihood of microbial contamination, infiltration from the surface such as commercial or septic wastewater may still occur. Approximately 92% of Canadians who are on private water systems receive groundwater, while approximately 85% of Canadians who are on public water systems receive surface water1

The NCCEH has produced numerous resources related to drinking water, including: 

Documents:

Presentations:

Guidelines:

Small Drinking Water Systems: Who does What?

Additional Resources:

Posted by NCCEHJan 07, 2015
Project TypeFeatured