Potential Threats to Water Supplies in Ottawa


The problems of drinking water quality of city water supply systems are fundamental in determining risk factors for public health. Furthermore, they are crucial in evaluating the effectiveness of the control and supervision activities in the field of drinking water supply for the population of Ottawa. The purpose of the research is to identify the distribution of threats to drinking water in the city and determine who might benefit and who might be harmed in the process.

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Today, the problem of clean and high-quality drinking water has become especially relevant. On the one hand, scientific progress and the constant development of technology greatly facilitate the life of modern society. On the other hand, these processes have given rise to other environmental problems. Significant disadvantageous health problems are linked to deficiencies in water systems in public and private buildings resulting from poor construction, improper installation, alterations, and insufficient maintenance. Numerous factors affect the quality of the water in the water distribution system in the building and can lead to contamination of drinking water. Eruptions of gastrointestinal illness can happen as a result of fecal contamination of drinking water in buildings brought about, for example, by malfunctions in the roof water storage tanks and cross-connections to sewage pipes.

Poorly designed water systems can cause stagnation of water and create a favorable environment for the spread of bacteria. Plumbing materials, pipes, plumbing fixtures, and coatings can increase the concentration of heavy metals (such as lead) in drinking water, and inappropriate materials can, as stated previously, promote bacterial growth (Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Region, 2011). Potentially unfavorable health effects may not be limited to a single building or area. Pollutants can also contaminate the city’s public distribution system as a result of cross-contamination of drinking water and counter flow. According to the Infrastructure and Economic Development Department of Ottawa (2018), the following are the main threats to the city water supplies:

  • Waste disposal sites
  • Septic systems
  • Sewage treatment plants and sewers
  • Manure, bio-solids, and livestock
  • Fuel and oil
  • Commercial fertilizer and pesticides
  • Road salt and snow storage
  • Chemicals and organic solvents
  • Aquaculture

Industries that pollute drinking water, draining its waste into water supplies to minimize costs, immediately benefit from such situations of water pollution. Other non-governmental institutions, such as businesses, profit off of polluted water, thus creating a need for clean water among the population. They offer a clean bottled water concept because the majority of the citizens would not dare to drink tap water or any other water from different sources.

According to the Constitution, responsibility for environmental protection is shared between the federal and provincial governments. For example, provincial governments have the primary responsibility for managing resources, including maintaining a maximum allowable industrial emission standard (for example, air emissions). The federal government is responsible for managing the use of toxic substances in the country. Attracting investments in water supply, sanitation, and other priority issues is the responsibility of the Canadian Department of Infrastructure.

Taking into account regional characteristics and the typology of territories in the regions, it is necessary to develop local action plans aimed at maintaining the already achieved levels of the population with high-quality drinking water. It is also essential to improve the mechanisms of control and supervision activities with a full applying risk-based approach, focusing on achieving targets of national projects and federal programs. Preventive regulation is a pleasant way to ensure the safety of drinking water, which should consider the aspects of drinking water supply on the way from the source and the catchment area to its use by consumers. Since many aspects of drinking water quality regulation often do not relate directly to the responsibilities of the water supplier, it is crucial to adopt a collaborative multi-agency approach to ensure that institutions responsible for specific areas of the water supply cycle deal with water quality regulation. One example concerns an area where the watershed and water sources are outside the jurisdiction of the drinking water supplier.

In the course of this task, it was necessary to solve both simple tasks and tasks of increased difficulty. The hardest part was the part of using an online geographic map to visualize the current problem of clean drinking water. This was because there was no long experience with Google MyMap, so learning the primary skills and applying topological marks to the map was the most difficult. Also, it is clear that the proximity of freshwater sources and industrial zones does not have a positive effect on water quality, so the main task of visualization was to determine the level of sufficient proximity between incompatible zones (Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Region, 2011). From the opposite point of view, analytical work with sources proved to be the easiest. The purpose of this work was to identify threats affecting water, and the relevant sources helped in this regard.

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It is difficult to say that the performance of this task was able to change the vision of the maps. Of course, using the tool, Google MyMaps rethink the work with online maps – instead of using ready-made templates had to create their map of Ottawa and mark it with appropriate marks. Google MyMaps expands on conventional online maps by allowing us to create lists and use a large number of map styles and layers.

There has been a definite change in the perception of threats affecting water resources. Searching for water bodies did not provide extensive options, as there are not many freshwater sources in Ottawa. However, almost every reservoir has an industrial facility, petrol stations, or a waste collection point near it. This makes for a more responsible approach to drinking water safety.


Infrastructure and Economic Development Dept. (2018). Source Water Protection. Web.

Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Region. (2011). Assessment Report. Web.

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