Commonly Asked Questions

The City of Brantford is committed to making sure that we deliver safe, clean and reliable drinking water to our residents, businesses and visitors. This is done through a complex water treatment process and continuous testing so that our water supply always meets or exceeds the Safe Drinking Water Act set by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP).

Commonly asked questions about drinking water treatment and monitoring 

The information below provides answers to everything you need to know about drinking water treatment and monitoring. If you have a concern about the quality of your tap water, please contact Customer Service at 519-759-4150.

What is the purpose of water storage tanks?
Five storage tanks are located in the City to store and provide water at adequate pressure during peak-demand periods and emergencies such as water-main breaks and fire protection.
What is the source of our municipal water supply?
The Grand River is the source for our entire municipal water needs. The Brantford Water Treatment Plant treats and pumps clean drinking water to your home through a network of underground pipes and reservoirs.
How often is the water tested and monitored?

Water is tested throughout the treatment process at every step starting from raw water taken from the Holmedale Canal to the finished drinking water supplied for a multitude of chemical and microbial parameters. 

There are several on-line analyzers that continuously test the water quality throughout the water treatment process.

Water treatment operators manually test water quality and cross-check on-line analyzer readings.
Samples of water from the Water Treatment Plant and the distribution system are also periodically shipped to a certified lab which reports the results directly to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP).

Reports on water quality monitoring are available online. Water treatment plant operators are physically present at the Water Treatment Plant 24/7 and 365 days a year monitoring the drinking water supplied.

Who receives the City water supply?
The City supplies drinking water to the residents and to the businesses located within the City. The City also supplies water to the County of Brant in the Cainsville area.
Who else provides oversight to the drinking water supplied?
The Brant County Health Unit (BCHU) monitors and advises the City on water quality issues. The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) conducts annual inspections of the Water Treatment Plant and distribution system. Through the Drinking Water Quality Management System (similar to ISO certification), the water operations is audited by an internal auditor annually and by an MECP approved external auditor every three years.
Is Brantford tap water safe to drink?
Yes, Brantford water is safe to drink. Please note that while water from the cold tap is safe to drink, it is strongly recommended to avoid using water for cooking or drinking coming from a hot water heater. Hot water heaters may leach heavy metals into the hot water tap.
Why do you add chlorine to the water?
The clean drinking water from the water plant travels through a network of pipes, of more than 480 kilometers, to serve residents in the City. To maintain microbial protection, the City is required to maintain a chlorine residual in the water throughout the distribution system. Think of a chlorine residual as a preservative for drinking water.
What do you do to ensure the drinking water supplied is safe?
The City has multiple barriers in the treatment process to protect the water quality such as ozonation, ultraviolet disinfection and chlorination in addition to conventional treatment and filtration.

The City also has multiple layers of monitoring as explained above.

The City maintains the distribution pipes through regular flushing and also replaces the old pipes and valves annually as part of a comprehensive Asset Management Program.

In addition to the City, the Brant County Health Unit and the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks provide oversight to safeguard Brantford’s drinking water quality.

What do you do with the dirt removed from the water during the treatment process?
The dirt removed from the raw and process water is dewatered and the ‘cake’ is disposed at the City’s landfill site.
How does the water treatment process work?
Brantford has a sophisticated and ‘state of the art’ water treatment facility. It is rated class IV, the highest designation of a water treatment facility by the MECP.

The Plant takes water from the Grand River through the Holmedale Canal. The water then goes through several treatment steps before it is ready for drinking.


Water is pumped from the Canal and goes through screens to remove leaves and debris.


Coagulation removes dirt and other particles suspended in water. Chemicals are added to water to form tiny sticky particles called "flocs" which attract the dirt particles. The combined weight of the dirt and the alum (floc) becomes heavy enough to sink to the bottom during sedimentation.


In the sedimentation process, the heavy particles (flocs) settle to the bottom and the clear water at the top moves to the Ozonation process.


There are many benefits to adding ozone to water. Ozone is added to break down dissolved organic particles such as the ones responsible for imparting taste and odour to drinking water. Ozone improves the performance of other water treatment processes such as disinfection and filtration.


In the filtration process, the water passes through filters, made of layers of sand and anthracite (charcoal) that help remove small particles and dissolved organic matter.

Ultraviolet Disinfection:

It is used to kill pathogens that are resistant to chlorine disinfection.


It is the primary method of disinfecting the water. Most pathogens are killed by chlorine disinfection. Once the water has been disinfected, a small amount of ammonia is also added to maintain a chloramine residual in the distribution network and prevent pathogen growth.


Clean drinking water is then pumped through a network of pipes and reservoirs to homes and businesses across the community.

How much water is produced?
City produces, on average, 35 million litres of drinking water a day. This is the amount of water that flows over the Niagara Falls in about 15 seconds.
What upgrades were done recently to the Water Treatment Plant and why?
The City added ozonation, ultraviolet disinfection and chlorine contact chambers to improve drinking water quality and safety. It also replaced old and deteriorated filters and a pumping station. The City invested $55 million in these upgrades and now the Water Treatment Plant has enough capacity to serve Brantford until 2031.

Commonly asked questions about water quality

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 have a concern about the quality of your tap water, please contact Customer Service at 519-759-4150.

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 a while?
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 519-759-4150.
What could cause my water to appear dirty?
Usually when water looks dirty, either your plumbing has steel pipes or sediments in the distribution system have been stirred up. Please refer to Why is My Water Coloured for assessing the source of dirty water and remedy the problem. Usually, the water will only look dirty for a short time, but you should not drink it until you have flushed your plumbing for at least 5 minutes and the water is clear.
Why does my water have an odd taste or odour?
There are many types of taste and odour issues in tap water, each having a different solution to be resolved.

Chlorine Taste and 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 dependent 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 and Odour: A pungent taste and odour is mainly a seasonal occurrence, which may happen periodically in the fall or the spring seasons. It simply occurs as a result of chlorine combining with a higher than usual amount of 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, not your tap water. 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, then you’ll know it is coming from your sink drain. To eliminate the problem, slowly 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 house sewer trap.

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 less expensive).

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 Ministry of the Environment Conservation and Parks (MECP), the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) and the upstream municipalities to prevent discharges and spills into the River. The GRCA monitors Grand River water quality and regulates the flow to maintain adequate levels in the summer months. The City has worked closely with the GRCA and the MECP in developing “The Brantford Source Protection Plan” and is in the enforcement phase to ensure the safety of our water source. For more information please visit the Source Water Protection page. The City of Brantford has also developed an Algae Management Plan to monitor algae growth and types from June 1 to October 31 annually.

Is my tap water hard or soft?
Water hardness refers to the amount of certain minerals, mainly calcium and magnesium, in drinking water. While hardness levels fluctuate depending on the season, Brantford's water is considered 'medium 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. Since most of these commercial products are unsafe to the health, 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 sediments can enter your tap water from either cast iron watermains in the City’s distribution system or from cast iron/galvanized steel plumbing on your property. To check where the “muddy” discolouration comes from, turn on the first tap to which water is supplied on your property and flush cold water for a few minutes. If the discoloration clears up, your plumbing may have galvanized or cast iron pipes. 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 plumbing 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 discolouration does not clear after at least 5 minutes of flushing, the problem is more likely to be associated with sediments in the distribution system. Please contact Customer Service at 519-759-4150 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 water mains are flushed. Flushing all taps for a few minutes will generally fix the problem.
Is my tap water safe to drink?
Yes! Tap water is safe to drink. To ensure the purity of Brantford’s drinking water, City staff continuously test the water before, during and after treatment. In fact, we always exceed the number of water tests required by provincial regulations. We also only use the necessary chemicals to treat the water, including chlorine, to kill E.coli and other bacteria that may be present in Grand River water. A tiny (and harmless) amount of chlorine is left in the water to ensure its continued safety as it travels to underground water mains supplying you with drinking water. Chlorine is considered one of the most important methods to effectively disinfect drinking water. A small amount of fluoride is also added to treated water to reduce the risk of dental cavities.