By  | August 15, 2017 | 1 Comment | Filed under: Cambridge's Dirty Drinking Water


This posting is in response to the recent Waterloo Region Record article titled “Tap water gains converts but we still fuss with it“. Essentially even tap water advocates admit that the taste of chlorine in the water puts people off. Thank goodness for that. Chlorine is not good for you. That said without chlorine we might have third world conditions requiring boiling of all drinking water in order to kill harmful bacteria and even viruses and protozoa. E.Coli, Coliforms, Cryptosporidium and Giardia (“Beaver Fever”) all come to mind. But and it’s a big butt; most of these nasty items are found in surface waters such as the Grand River, reservoirs, creeks and lakes. Groundwater, especially from deep wells, is basically protected by fifty to a hundred feet of sand, gravel and clay which filters out and prevents the intrusion of these unhealthy lifeforms. Also these lifeforms require oxygen which is much less available the deeper in the ground you go.

Chlorine health issues are well known. Chlorine is the carcinogenic compound in many industrial solvents such as Trichloroethylene (TCE), TCA, Chloroform, Dichloroethylene (DCE) and Vinyl Chloride a breakdown chemical of TCE. Chlorine use in tap water requires extensive testing for both chlorine residuals as well as for toxic and carcinogenic breakdown products of chlorine known as Trihalomethanes (THM). These THM chemicals include chloroform, bromodichloromethane and many others. There is even a group of chemicals known as Haloacetic Acids (HAA) which are also toxic by-products of the use of chlorine in water. NDMA which helped shut down the wells in Elmira has been formed in the past both within Sewage Treatment Plants as well as in Drinking Water Plants under certain conditions.

Overall I believe that the Region of Waterloo are on top of the latest technology involved in water treatment. That however still leaves a lot of problems not least of which is the lack of scientific knowledge regarding multiple low level toxins in drinking water. Having three or four toxic substances each just below the Ontario Drinking Water Standards (ODWS) is perfectly legal but that doesn’t mean it is perfectly healthy. Atrazine, Glyphosate and other herbicides in my opinion have far too high a drinking water standard yet they are ubiquitous in our groundwater supplies. Many common toxics such as NDMA and Toluene are not reported in the Region’s Annual Drinking water reports.

Deep groundwater while generally safe from bacteria, viruses and protozoa is not immune from industrial solvents. Yes our shallow groundwater is more heavily contaminated with them but gasoline and oil compounds as well as the heavier chlorinated solvents have all reached deeper aquifers throughout Waterloo Region. Many companies both large and small are responsible including Uniroyal (Lanxess), Varnicolor Chemical, Breslube (Safety-Kleen), CGT, Ciba-Geigy (Novartis), Northstar Aerospace, Canbar, Sunar and a host of other service stations, former coal gas installations and the list goes on and on. The treatment for these groundwater contaminants include activated carbon and more.

Bottled water which is sourced well away from industrial enterprises and taken from deep aquifers and is properly and carefully tested is your best health bet. Usually however it is not tested as carefully as tap water for a reason as I’ve explained all the problems with tap water which is either sourced from the Grand River and or from industrially contaminated aquifers in our towns and cities especially including Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge.

There are particular rural water supplies that scare the ever living bejesus out of me. Even though under the supervision and responsibility of Waterloo Region, the West Montrose water supply is a disaster waiting to happen. The Region have belatedly recognized that and are finally in the process of replacing it after years of supplementing/diluting? it with tanker trucks of imported water. Other problems exist and chlorine while indeed if used properly and carefully does kill bacteria and more, it is still a double edged sword. E.Coli as in Walkerton seventeen years ago killed seven and injured thousands very quickly. Proper chlorine use will eliminate that but long term is not good for you.

Myself, family and even past pets have all drunk filtered tap water. I believe that the activated carbon filter removes both chlorine and heavy metals leached overnight into the standing water from soldered plumbing connections. Running your tap for a minute first thing in the morning probably helps with both those problems. The odd morning the smell of chlorine coming from our tap is strong and unpleasant. It is also unhealthy.



One Response to TAP WATER STILL PROBLEMATIC, by Alan Marshall

  1. mjqsmith@bell.net'
    Maggie August 19, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    Interesting – could be a rumour but was told that our Mayor imports his drinking water in from Guelph or at least he used to when living in Hespeler. I don’t know that for a fact, but was told this over a year ago.
    If so, guess he doesn’t trust our own water system. Hespeler used to have the best drinking water until we became Cambridge. Not sure what happened – but it did. And if you spray Cambridge water from a hose & whatever it hits – leaves dried spots & sticks like clue. The only way to remove is with straight vinegar. So imagine this going into our stomachs – oh dear!!

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