Water Quality F.A.Q.S
Are you curious about the quality of your tap water? The information below provides answers to everything you need to know about your municipal water supply.
If you are concerned about the quality of your tap water, you can get your water tested FREE by contacting Customer Service at (519) 756-1360.
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Water Treatment Plant Process Flow Diagram (pdf)
- How Can I Determine if Discolouration in My Water Is a Problem at My End or Not?
- You may be able to get rid of some of the problems with coloured water yourself or with the help of a plumber if the problem is with your plumbing or hot water heater. Otherwise you will need to speak with your water utility.
Here are some simple questions that may tell you whether the problem is on your end or not:
1. Is the water coloured when you first turn on the tap in the morning or after not using it for awhile?
2. Does the water run clear after a few minutes?
3. Are only some of your taps affected?
4. Are you the only one in the neighbourhood with the problem?
5. Is it only the hot water that is coloured?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then the problem is probably with your plumbing. If you answered yes to the last question, the problem is probably with your water heater. In either case, you should call a plumber. If you answered no to the last 4 questions, then you should contact Customer Service at 519-756-1360.
- What Could Cause My Water to Appear Dirty?
- Usually when water looks dirty, it’s because of a change taking place in the operation of the water distribution system. For example, if the direction of water flowing in the pipe is reversed due to maintenance work, when a fire hydrant is broken in a car accident or when there is a water main break, materials at the bottom of the pipes can get stirred up. Usually, the water will only look dirty for a short time, but you should not drink it until it looks clear. In order to remedy this problem, you should run all of your faucets for a few minutes. If the problem doesn’t clear up within about 5 minutes, contact Customer Service 519-756-1360.
- Why Does My Water Have an Odd Taste or Odour?
- Chlorine Taste & Odour:
The taste or smell of chlorine in the water supply is sometimes detectable. Chlorine is added to the water supply as a disinfectant to kill disease-causing organisms in treated water. The strength and persistence of the chlorine is usually dependant on the proximity of your property to the point at which the water is dosed with chlorine. Put a pitcher of water in the fridge. Cold water tastes and smells better.
Pungent Taste & Odour:
A pungent taste and odour is mainly a seasonal occurrence, which may happen periodically in the fall through the spring seasons. It simply occurs as a result of chlorine combining with a higher than usual amount organic matter in the drinking water supply. Examples of organic matter include dead leaves and algae growth in the water source, which is the Grand River. Although these occurrences impart an unusual taste to the water, it is safe to drink. As with chlorine taste & odour problems, it is recommended that a pitcher of water be cooled in the fridge before drinking.
Swampy Sulfur-like Odour:
Unless you use a private well water supply, the odour is most likely from your sewer drain line. This offensive odour is caused by bacteria that grow on decaying hair, soap or food trapped in the drain. If the smell appears at only some of your faucets and if the smell goes away after running the water for a few minutes, then you’ll know it is coming from your sink drain. To eliminate the problem, pour ½ cup of bleach in the affected drain and let sit for about 10 minutes before turning on your tap. If this odour comes from all faucets and doesn’t go away after running your taps for a few minutes, then the problem is likely with your water. If you have determined that this odour is coming from your municipal water supply, contact Customer Service at 519-756-1360.
- How does the tap water compare with the bottled water?
- • Tap water is continuously tested and monitored for safety until it reaches your home.
• Tap water is inexpensive compared to bottled water (between 500 and 1000 times cheaper)
• Tap water is fresh and locally treated. It is readily available in your homes and businesses.
• Bottled water is expensive and generates excessive waste and pollutes the environment. The plastic from the bottles can leach toxic compounds into the water, which in turn gets absorbed by the body.
- How do we protect our water source, the Grand River?
- The City works with the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) and the upstream municipalities to prevent discharges and spills into the River. The GRCA monitors the water quality and regulates the flow to maintain adequate water flow in the summer months. The City has worked closely with GRCA and the MOECC in developing “The Brantford Source Protection Plan” and is in the implementation phase to ensure the safety of our water source. For more information please visit the Source Water Protection webpage.
- Is My Tap Water Hard or Soft?
- Tap water can be both. Water hardness refers to the amount of certain minerals, mainly calcium and magnesium, in the water. Brantford's water is 'average to high' for water hardness. As a consequence of water being heated, cooled or evaporated over time, scaly, white crusting can result on fixtures due to mineral buildup. Hardness in water can also leave spots on your coffeepot and other glassware. Water softeners can be purchased, however it's recommended that a separate, un-softened supply of water be kept for cooking and drinking since healthy minerals would otherwise be replaced with salt. To remove spotting from coffee pots, fill with vinegar and let sit overnight. Periodically clean fixtures such as kettles, coffee makers, showerheads and dishwashers with vinegar to eliminate buildup. There are also some store bought products available to eliminate spotting when washed and allowed to air dry. As some of these products are very corrosive, it is important to rinse thoroughly with water to avoid any potential for poisoning.
- Why is My Water Coloured?
- Orange, Red, Brown or Yellow Water:
Rust can turn water orange, red, brown or yellow. Rust can enter your water from either the water pipes of our water distribution system, or from old cast iron pipes on your property. Water that is “muddy” in appearance can result from sediment in the water mains.
To check whether the discolouration has been caused by rusted piping on your property, turn on the first tap to which water is supplied on your property and run for a few minutes. If the colour clears, your plumbing may be galvanized or cast iron and rusted. If water from a tap at the end of your plumbing supply line is worse in colour than that of the front tap, rusted piping in your property is the most likely cause. Water from rusted piping will generally have an unpleasant taste and there may also be reduced pressure in the pipe due to choking with rust and other particles. Where rusted piping appears to be the issue, seek advice from a certified plumber, and don’t do laundry until the rust is eliminated because it can stain clothes. Also, don’t use hot water or you might draw the rusty water into your hot water heater.
If the colour does not clear after a few minutes of flushing, the problem is more likely to be associated with sediment in the water main. This can be a particular problem in cul-de-sacs and dead end streets but is likely to only persist for a short period of time. If the problem persists contact Customer Service at 519-756-1360 so that arrangements can be made to flush the local water main supply to the property.
Green or Blue Water:
Very heavily corroded copper plumbing can sometimes turn water a greenish-blue colour. This can happen if your electrical system is grounded to your water pipes. For those who operate water softeners, discolouration can intensify if the settings are too high. Even keeping your water heater at too high of a temperature can cause a greenish colour. Seek the advice of a certified plumber.
- Why Does My Water Sometimes Look White or Cloudy?
- Water is white or cloudy when air gets in and makes tiny bubbles. Cold water also holds more dissolved oxygen, which is released in the form of bubbles as it warms up. The bubbles are harmless and will disappear if you let the water sit in a glass for a few minutes. Air can also become trapped in piping after repairs or when the main is flushed. Flushing all taps for a few minutes should generally fix the problem.
- Is My Tap Water Safe to Drink?
- Tap water is safe to drink. To ensure the purity of our water, we test the water continuously before, during and after treatment. In fact, we conduct more tests and on many more substances than required by regulation. We also use only the necessary chemicals to treat the water, including chlorine, to kill E.coli and other bacteria that may be present. A tiny (and harmless) amount of chlorine is left in the water to ensure its continued safety as it travels to you. It's considered one of the most important tools to disinfect drinking water. The City's water treatment system also has a number of continuous chlorine analyzers scattered throughout that can instantaneously alert a Water Treatment Plant Operator of a potential problem 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A small amount of fluoride is also added to treated water to reduce the risk of dental cavities.