Photo By: Engin Akyurt from Unsplash

The last annual report on the quality of the drinking water in St. Catharines has been released to the public. An overwhelming majority of the samples taken from the city’s water distribution system have been found clean and meet provincial quality standards. 

The water distribution system in St. Catharines is made up of almost 700 km of underground pipes. This underground network is one of several that are supplied by the Niagara Region’s Decew Falls Water Treatment Plant, which gets its water supply from Lake Erie’s surface water. Water that is pumped into the city’s distribution network is sampled and tested by the municipality multiple times per month to ensure its safety.

During last week’s meeting, the city council received a report on the city’s drinking water system, which contained the study findings for about 7,000 water samples taken by staff throughout 2021. The samples were examined for known pollutants such as microorganisms and excess or leftover chemicals from the cleaning procedure by accredited laboratories in Ontario. Based on the results of these tests, the city’s water is graded for conformity with the province’s Safe Water Drinking Act. 

According to this water quality standard, samples are tested specifically for the presence of E. coli and Coliform bacteria, trihalomethanes, lead, haloacetic acids and residual chlorine. 

Almost all of the samples taken in St. Catharines met the provincial standard for these tests, with the exception of the test for Coliform bacteria, with 99.9 per cent of the samples meeting the standard. As a result of two water quality incidents last year, two of the city’s samples failed to fulfil provincial standards in this criterion. 

It is important to note that an incident involving water quality does not imply that the drinking water supply is hazardous. An incidence merely means that a drinking water quality requirement was exceeded on that one test or sample.

One incident saw increased levels of Coliform, while the other had overgrown bacteria colonies, making it impossible to recognize any bacterial markers that may be present. 

Following each occurrence of water quality incidents, a number of steps were taken to ensure the safety of the water and conformity with provincial regulations. These included flushing fire hydrants in the incident area and collecting additional water samples from the initial location as well as areas nearby. The water was judged to be compliant after resampling after the hydrants were flushed.

Annual testing is crucial in order to ensure that the city provides clean drinking water. Consistent monitoring allows administrators to rapidly identify and resolve any instances of concern before they affect citizens.

The results from the recently released report demonstrate that the water distributed by the city is safe to drink and contains virtually none of the aforementioned pollutants.

Those who would like to read the complete report on drinking water in the City of St. Catharines for 2021 are encouraged to visit the city’s website.