Sodium in Drinking Water

Important information for residents on sodium-restricted diets

The sodium in Brantford’s drinking water supply had an average concentration of 70 mg/L in 2018. The sodium concentration in drinking water reflects the level found in the Grand River. 

Using a water softener in your home will increase the sodium level in your drinking water and  contributes to a person’s daily sodium intake. Overall, sodium from municipally supplied drinking water is responsible for a very small fraction of the total sodium consumed daily.

What you need to know about sodium in drinking water

Health Canada’s aesthetic guideline for sodium in drinking water is 200 mg/L. This means that above the guideline, water has a noticeably salty taste but is not harmful to healthy people. The City of Brantford notifies the local Medical Officer of Health when the sodium concentration is 20 mg/L or greater as required in the Ontario Drinking Water Systems Regulation 170/03 under the Safe Drinking Water Act. This is so that physicians may provide support to their patients who have been medically advised to follow sodium–restricted diets. Sodium in water at this concentration is not a health concern for healthy individuals

For additional information on health impacts from sodium in drinking water please contact the Brant County Health Unit at 519-753-493, ext. 470.

Sodium defined

Sodium is a mineral commonly found in food and water. Your body needs sodium daily to regulate fluids, maintain blood pressure, and for muscle and nerve functions.  Since it is an essential nutrient, there is only an aesthetic guideline for the amount of sodium containted in water as established by the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality and Ontario Drinking Water Standards. This means that above the guideline of 200 mg/L, water has a noticeably salty taste but is not harmful to healthy people. Sodium in water is only a concern to those who have hypertension and/or heart disease and who are on sodium-reduced diets.

How sodium gets into drinking water

There are numerous sources of sodium in water. It is a mineral that naturally occurs and is quite common in groundwater. Sources of sodium in the Grand River may be from geological salts that are naturally washed out of rocks and soils as well as what is contributed from road salt and discharges from water softeners.

How Brantford’s drinking water contributes to your daily sodium intake

Sodium is an essential nutrient required for physiological functions. We often consume more sodium than the body requires. According to Health Canada, the maximum recommended daily intake for an adult is 2300 mg. 

The most prevalent source of daily sodium originates from food:

  • 77% of sodium is from processed food
  • 12% is naturally found in food
  • 6% is added at the table for seasoning and taste
  • 5% is added while cooking

For a healthy adult, the amount of sodium contributed through drinking water is very small. It may only be a significant source for those on sodium-restricted diets. On a diet of only 500 mg of sodium per day, 2 L of water can contribute 23% of your daily sodium intake. 

Examples of common sodium levels in food and beverages
  • One cup of a cream-based soup contains 1080 mg of sodium
  • One 3 cm cube (30 g) of cheddar cheese contains 210 mg of sodium
  • One slice (37 g) of white bread contains 195 mg of sodium
  • One apple (approx. 125 g) contains 1 mg of sodium
  • One can (368 g) of a carbonated cola beverage contains 15 mg of sodium
  • 100 g of regular potato chips contains 525 mg of sodium