Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Do yourselves a favour this spring when the Region of Waterloo releases their Annual Drinking Water Report. Order yourself a copy or download it from on-line. Our local paper usually carrys an ad from the region each spring both advertising this report as well as bragging about how good the drinking water is.

First off every year there are detections of low level solvents in various wells primarily in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. These chemicals (usually TCE) are typically below our Ontario Drinking Water Standards. They are however not necessarily below the standards of other jurisdictions especially the U.S.. Secondly the list that the region (& other jurisdictions) test for are not extensive. Add them up and see if you even get 100 industrial chemicals being tested for. This figure isn't so hot when you realize that every single year hundreds of different chemicals are being discovered and or produced in labs across the country. Finally check to see if NDMA is on the region's list. It has been found in the past in cambridge drinking wells and to this day Elmira's wells are shut down because of it. Then start looking for ubiquitous chemicals from leaking gas station tanks. Things like benzene, Toluene, Ethyl Benzene and Xylenes. Are they routinely tested for and the results published? i don't think so.

I have recently read a book titled "TOMS RIVER" written by Dan Fagin. This book describes horrific pollution in Toms River, New Jersey courtesy of Ciba-Geigy and indirectly Union Carbide. The National Toxicology Program (U.S.) "Report on Carcinogens" in 2011 lists 246 compounds that are carcinogenic alone. Pg. 519 footnote #10. Cancer is but one end point of toxins in our water. Of these 246 compounds how many of them are being routinely tested for and reported by the Region of Waterloo?

The Parkway Wellfield in Toms River had 122 unidentified industrial compounds in it unrelated to what they were looking for, namely styrene acryloniterile trimer (SAN). Pg. 381 See if you can find SAN much less the unidentified compounds in the region's drinking water testing.

"Still others seemed to be new molecules that formed when compounds mixed during their mile-long underground journey from Reich farm to the wells.". Pg.379

Maybe our drinking water is safe. Personally I doubt it and if either the province or the region want to prove it is, they've got a long ways to go.


  1. When you write "These chemicals (usually TCE) are typically below our Ontario Drinking Water Standards" do you mean that the levels of the chemicals in the water is at a concentration below the threshold of the standard (ie. declared "safe"), or do you mean that they don't meet the requirements of the standard (ie. "unsafe")?

    What do you do yourself to make your drinking water safe? We run ours through a Brita water filter, but really only to remove the odour of chlorine. I don't think a Brita filter removes biologic contamination (ie. bacteria), nor any heavy metals. It might absorb some organic chemicals, but I don't want to think of what happens once they've accumulated in the filter...


  2. The TCE standard is 5 ppb. Most of the time the concentrations are between 1 and 4 ppb (parts per billion). I use a Brita filter to remove chlorine and organic chemicals, solvents etc. Frequent changing of the filter is a very good idea.