Your Guide To Drinking Water in Toronto
As the capital of Ontario and the biggest city in Canada, Toronto has a storied reputation. From haunted houses and ancient red oaks to the Hockey Hall of Fame and the CN Tower, this area is known for a little bit of everything — including its deep connection to water.
Of course, it’s not just Lake Ontario that Toronto locals have to think about. There’s also your drinking water — the source, the system, public health information and more. It’s always important to know what’s coming out of your tap.
Today, we’ll dive into drinking water in Toronto and everything you should find out before taking a sip.
Is It Safe To Drink Water in Toronto?
When it comes to Toronto tap water — and, in fact, most tap water in North America — there’s good news: Cities and municipalities generally do a great job treating the water supply. Although you may have to look out for occasional water advisories, you can generally count on municipal drinking water. (Keep in mind that private wells aren’t treated or managed by the city, so they aren’t subject to the same rules.)
Public drinking water in Toronto is generally safe. The city ensures that its public water supply always meets or exceeds expectations established by the Safe Drinking Water Act. It does this at four treatment plants operating 24/7, treating more than 1 billion liters of water per day. On top of that, Toronto tests its drinking water every six hours to ensure quality.
How Does Water Treatment Work in Toronto?
Locals likely won’t be surprised to hear that Toronto drinking water often comes from Lake Ontario. As this water moves toward treatment, screens help remove large debris and chlorine or ozone acts as disinfectants. Next, the city adds alum or poly-aluminum chloride to turn water particles into “floc,” which settles at the bottom of specialized basins. The rest of the water moves through gravel, sand and carbon filters to remove smaller contaminants.
To support public health and maintain water quality, the city also adds:
- Phosphoric acid
From there, the water flows out of the treatment center and toward your home.
Is Drinking Water Always Perfect?
Not all potential contaminants are regulated by Toronto public health authorities or other government bodies — including PFAS or “forever chemicals.”* That means the municipal water supply isn’t being treated for every possible issue.
On top of that, the city can’t treat water all the way to your tap. For example, if your home has lead pipes or if the main service line has high lead levels, municipal drinking water treatment couldn’t prevent contamination from these sources.
The important thing to remember is that public water quality isn’t always a guarantee.
Should You Filter Water in Toronto?
No matter where your water comes from or how it’s treated, you can almost always benefit from comprehensive filtration. However, there’s still more to know. What kind of filtration system you need depends on everything from your water source to your personal preferences. You can also choose whole home filtration systems or reverse osmosis systems based on the water quality problems you need to solve.
Here are a few Toronto-specific issues that you may want to consider:
Musty, Earthy Odors and Tastes
In late summer and early fall, Lake Ontario experiences naturally occurring algae growth and high water temperatures, which can lead to earthy tastes and odors at your tap. While this water is considered safe to drink, you may still want another layer of treatment to address these aesthetic concerns.
Chlorine and Fluoride
Many cities add chlorine and fluoride to the public water supply to help promote better health. While these additives are considered safe, you might want to reduce their presence for one reason or another. For example, if you’re sensitive to chlorine, you may notice an odor like a swimming pool in summer every time you turn on the tap.
Lead pipes and service lines are a somewhat common occurrence in Toronto, particularly in homes or infrastructure built before the mid-1950s.
Worried about these and other water problems?
Try our Water Solutions Finder.
What About Water Hardness?
When your water has too much dissolved calcium and magnesium, the result is hard water — something you can’t directly see, smell or taste. However, this issue will make itself known in other ways. The harder your water, the more likely you are to notice:
- Mineral buildup
- Soap scum
- Spotty dishes
- Dry skin and hair
- Stiff laundry
- Restricted water pressure or flow
Over time, hard water can have even more lasting effects on your bottom line:
- Reduced performance and lifespan of water-using appliances
- Increased time spent cleaning dishes, faucets, tubs, showers, sinks and more
- More money spent on soaps and cleaners
While not a drinking water quality issue, water hardness can still impact your home and well-being. That’s why it’s helpful to know that many areas in Ontario have had historically high hardness levels. Because hardness depends on many factors — including your water source, geological formations in your area, your geographic location and more — it’s important to have a professional water test and consultation.
That’s because a professional test will tell you exactly what’s happening at your tap. This goes beyond water hardness to include information about iron, total dissolved solids, chlorine and more. Better yet, your local water expert can help translate these results and tell you exactly what they mean for your water quality. You’ll also get personalized recommendations on next steps.
For many homes in Toronto, that means choosing and installing a water softener. These systems attract and flush out calcium and magnesium ions, leaving your water soft, your skin and hair feeling healthy, your home cleaner and your budget happier.
Your local water expert will also recommend water filtration solutions if necessary. These can complement your water softening system and create a more comprehensive treatment solution.
Get Better Water in Toronto
When it comes to drinking water in Toronto, the last thing you want to do is rely on guesswork. You can ensure that your home is protected against a wide variety of water quality issues, from high hardness levels to unpleasant tastes and odors — and all it takes is a quick water test.
Professional water tests take about 30 minutes and include all the information you need to make confident decisions about your treatment solutions. Whether that means choosing a water filtration system, installing a water softener or both, we’ll help you find out what’s best for your home and budget.
Get started today. Schedule your free, in-home water test and consultation.
*Contaminants may not be present in your water.
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