Source water is the raw water that we take from lakes, rivers or underground aquifers to supply people with drinking water. “Source Water Protection” or “Source Protection” means protecting these sources of drinking water from contamination and overuse. The focus is on prevention and this work is meant to complement the work of water treatment plant operators who ensure municipal drinking water is properly treated, tested and safely delivered to your tap.
Four great reasons to protect drinking water at the source:
- Water treatment is not always enough.
- Water treatment systems do not remove all contaminants from water, particularly some chemicals. The safest approach is to prevent contamination in the first place.
- Prevention saves money.
- It is much cheaper to keep water clean than to try to remove contaminants. A 2010 spill from a home heating oil tank in eastern Ontario cost $1 million to clean up. The spill might have been avoided by ensuring the tank was in good repair.
- Contamination can ruin a water source forever.
- Sometimes contamination cannot be cleaned up and a water supply must be shut down. The community of Manotick, Ontario lost access to its groundwater in the 1990s when it was contaminated by chemicals from a dry cleaning business. Since then, water has been piped into Manotick from urban Ottawa.
- Source protection has other benefits.
- Clean and plentiful sources of drinking water protect property values and support tourism and recreation, business development and fish and wildlife habitat. All of which create healthy local economies and viable, vibrant communities.