Is Ottawa Tap Water Safe to Drink or Not?

  • Date: 29/03/2024
  • Time to read: 12 min.
Is Ottawa Tap Water Safe to Drink or Not?

Is it safe to drink tap water in Ottawa? Can I drink the Tap Water in Ottawa? If you are visiting Ottawa for the first time, you might have these questions. Here we have a detailed guide to answer all your questions about whether Tap Water is safe to drink.

Yes. Ottawa, tap water is safe to drink.

Ottawa’s drinking water consistently meets all Federal and Provincial standards making it safe to drink without boiling or filtering it out.

However, there is a catch the water may be contaminated due to the corrosion of the old pipeline, which mostly depends upon the location you are living in.

There are many locals who straight away use tap water for their everyday needs like cooking, washing, and cleaning. While the water meets all the safety standards and is legally safe to drink, I recommend you either drink it after boiling or you can have a filtered water bottle especially if you are a tourist.

Having a filtered water bottle is more convenient than boiling and then drinking the water.

Here we have a detailed article that will cover everything about Ottawa’s tap water and also help you keep away from getting sick in Ottawa.

Is Ottawa Tap Water Safe to Drink?

Yes, Ottawa Tap Water is totally safe to drink. It meets all Federal and Provincial standards of drinking water which make it fit for drinking without even boiling.

However, there might be some contamination in the water that can cause you to fall ill. The main concern here is the lead which you can easily find in the old pipelines.

If there is any contamination then there are chances it might have some bacteria that can easily make you fall ill so boiling your water before drinking is recommended.

Everyone in Ottawa will tell you that there is nothing to worry it’s totally safe which in turn is true but you never know whether the water is contaminated or not. So, why do you have to take any risk especially when you are a tourist?

Is there lead in Ottawa water?

The city’s water treatment plants remove lead and other contaminants before distributing it to homes.

However, some older homes in Ottawa still have lead service pipes connecting the municipal water main pipeline to their home. These pipes were commonly used before 1958 and can leach lead into the water, especially if they are disturbed or corroded.

It is estimated that about 15% of homes in Ottawa still have lead service pipes. Lead pipes were used in home construction until the late 1950s. After that, water service pipes were changed from lead to Copper.

As per a study of 2019 around 10% of the city population has a risk of lead in their drinking water.

The City of Ottawa also has a Lead Pipe Replacement Program to help homeowners replace these pipes, but it is a gradual and slow process and not all homes have been addressed yet.

Do locals drink tap water in Ottawa?

tap water in Ottawa

Yes, the majority of locals drink tap water in Ottawa.

As per a survey, more than 80% of the locals filter out the tap water before drinking it. Many use filter water storage containers to remove the impurities of the tap water in Ottawa.

The City of Ottawa conducts its tests in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment and Conservation to monitor water quality. So that its citizens can have safe and pure drinking water free from all types of bacteria and impurities.

Should you drink tap water in Ottawa?

No, you should not drink the tap water in Ottawa unless it is being filtered out or boiled first.

To be very frank being a tourist, it’s not worth taking the risk of falling ill as it will spoil your whole planning and experience of visiting the place.

There are so many easy ways that you can use to filter out the water and make it safe for drinking. You can either filter out the water or boil it for around two minutes to kill all the bacteria present in it.

Using these methods will make sure to have safe drinking water till the time you are in Ottawa.

What are the Contaminants in Ottawa Tap Water?

Algae, bacteria, viruses, and organic solutes are some most common contaminants in Ottawa tap water. All this makes the water practically unfit for drinking. The city regularly monitors and treats its water to ensure it’s safe to drink.

There are some naturally occurring contaminations like calcium magnesium iron and manganese. These are commonly found in Ottawa tap water and are generally not harmful, but in higher concentrations or levels, they may affect the taste and appearance of the water.

However, the main concern here in downtown Ottawa is chlorine and chloramine.

These disinfectants are used to kill bacteria in the water. During the final process of purification, they (authorities) add ammonia to react with chlorine to form chloramine. Both chlorine and chloramines are effective at protecting public health, but they can sometimes change the taste or odor of the water if present in excess.

Chloramine is approved by the Canada Health Department and is considered to be safer for public consumption. However, there is a Cap(limit) to putting out these chemicals in the water otherwise they can negatively affect the human body.

How does Ottawa’s drinking water purification system work?

Ottawa’s water purification is a complex and important process that ensures the safety and quality of the water people drink every day. By employing a multi-barrier approach, the city effectively removes the contaminants and keeps the water fit for consumption and daily use.

Firstly, the water is drawn from the Ottawa River, then screened, and treated with chemicals to remove impurities. After that, the impurities get settled down, and water gets filtered through the sand. Lastly, the pure water is disinfected with chlorine or chloramines.

Throughout the whole process, the water is closely monitored and tested to ensure it meets all the Federal and Provincial standards so that it’s safe to drink. Finally, it’s pumped to your home through a vast network of pipes laid out across the Ottawa city.

Is Ottawa’s drinking water hard or soft?

Ottawa’s tap water is soft. This is because the main source of water, the Ottawa River, is naturally low in minerals like calcium and magnesium, which contribute to water hardness.

However, the hard water doesn’t mean that it is unsafe to drink. But in everyday life, it can be hard to use especially when you’re using it for cleaning purposes.

Not to mention, water from wells in Ottawa is usually considered to be hard water which in turn requires some sort of treatment to make it fit for everyday use.

Is the taste of Ottawa tap water good?

It mostly depends upon personal preferences. Some people find the taste of Ottawa tap water refreshing and even delicious while Others may find it bland or lacking in minerals, possibly due to the natural organic matter present in the Ottawa River.

However it does depend on the age and maintenance of pipes in specific areas, so there might be minor variations in taste, potentially with a hint of metal or rust present in the water.

How does Ottawa tap water compare to bottled water?

Here’s a quick rundown of how Ottawa tap water stacks up against bottled water:

StandardsTap WaterBottled Water
SafetyMeets all Canadian and provincial standards for drinking water quality.Depends upon the brand,  but generally considered to be safe.
TasteCrisp and cleanDepends upon the source and mineral content
Cost Extremely affordableSignificantly more expensive per liter than tap water
Environment ImpactRequires No packaging and transportation(via pipes)Requires plastic bottles and transportation
AccessibilityReadily available at home and public fountains.Needs to be bought, not always readily available everywhere.

Ottawa tap water is safe, affordable, and environmentally friendly. While the taste might not be loved by everyone. But it has more advantages than those of a water bottle.

Bottled water can be an option for convenience or preferred taste, but comes at a cost in terms of price and environmental impact. So, the choice between tap and bottled water comes down to personal preference and priorities, it’s up to you which one you want to use or not.

Can you drink Ottawa tap Water?

Yes, you can definitely drink Ottawa tap water! It’s safe, thanks to the city’s rigorous multi-step purification system.

But here is a catch you never know which pipes have been used to connect your hotel/home to the main pipeline. So it is highly advised to either boil your water before drinking or use a filter water bottle to remove the impurities from it.

Here are some reasons why you should trust Ottawa’s tap water:

  • Meets all safety standards: It consistently meets all federal and provincial water quality guidelines set by Health Canada and the Ministry of the Environment, which makes it safe for drinking.
  • Regularly monitored and tested: The city of Ottawa constantly monitors and tests the water throughout the treatment process at various points in the distribution system to ensure its quality and also to know whether it has been contaminated or not.
  • Multi-barrier purification: The water undergoes a multi-step purification process that removes impurities like bacteria, viruses, and chemicals. This includes processes like screening, coagulation, sedimentation, filtration, disinfection, and then final distribution to the public.

What will happen if you drink tap water in Ottawa?

Ottawa tap water is safe for drinking and there is nothing wrong with it. But keep in mind to boil or filter it out before you drink it. Here’s why:

  • Safety Standards: Ottawa’s tap water consistently meets all safety standards for drinking water quality. It undergoes rigorous testing regularly by qualified authorities to ensure its safety.
  • Benefits: Tap water in Ottawa is naturally treated with chlorine to remove harmful bacteria and viruses. It’s also a good source of minerals like calcium and magnesium, contributing to overall health but adding too much of it can also spoil your health.
  • Taste: While taste preferences vary, many people find Ottawa’s tap water to be clean and refreshing.

Therefore, drinking tap water in Ottawa is not only safe but also beneficial and cost-effective compared to bottled water.

But if there is any contamination in the water, you might experience issues like vomiting and diarrhea. These are usually caused by the bacteria present in the water. Many people have reported that they have skin rashes after using tap water in Ottawa.

If you face any such issues, then immediately reach out to a doctor to know what exactly has happened to you.

So, it is highly advised to boil or filter out the water if you want to drink it.

Is it okay to drink tap water in Ottawa for the long term?

Yes, it is okay to drink Ottawa tap water long-term. The water undergoes a rigorous multi-stage treatment process, including coagulation, filtration, disinfection, and fluoridation, and it also meets all Canadian and provincial drinking water standards.

The Quality of the water is constantly monitored at various stages of treatment throughout the whole process to make it safer for public consumption.

Many independent agencies in Ottawa regularly audit the water treatment process and confirm that there are no harmful bacteria & viruses or any possible contamination in the water. Drinking tap water reduces plastic waste and environmental impact which is quite significant as compared to bottled water.

Therefore, you can confidently drink Ottawa tap water long-term without any significant health concerns. However, you need to keep in mind that there are a small portion of older homes in Ottawa still have lead pipes. If you’re concerned about lead in your water, you can get your water tested or consider using a filter.

Overall, Ottawa tap water is a safer choice for the long term. You can drink it with confidence as it meets all the safety standards of drinking water. It is also beneficial for both your health and the environment.

Is it safe to use Ottawa tap water for cooking?

Yes, Ottawa tap water is safe and perfect for cooking. It undergoes a multistage treatment process that makes it meet all Canadian provisions of drinking water safety standards. After the treatment water is free from any type of bacteria, virus, or other possible contamination that can pose a health risk to the citizens.

The tap water in Ottawa is soft and naturally low in minerals, making it an ideal choice for cooking. Using hard water for cooking can also affect the taste and texture of the food which is not a problem problem if you are using tap water in Ottawa.

Can you take a shower with tap water in Ottawa?

Yeah, you can take a shower in Ottawa tap water. However, the chlorine in the water makes it safe to shower. If you are worried about lead or have sensitive skin, then you can put on the shower filter to remove all such impurities.

In fact, you can brush your teeth with tap water as the fluoride levels in the water are significantly higher which is a good thing for your teeth.

Can I drink ice made from Ottawa tap Water?

Yes, you can drink ice made from Ottawa tap water, but I don’t recommend it. However, Ottawa undergoes a rigorous treatment process that ensures its safety and purity But you never know whether the water is contaminated or not during the process of Transportation into your home.

So if you want to drink ice made from Ottawa tap water, first boil the water and then allow it to freeze or you can also filter out the water that will work perfectly fine for it.

Can you drink the water in Ottawa hotels?

Yes, you can, but you should not. Because most of the hotels in Ottawa are old which means they might have a risk of using old lead pipes which were quite common back in the 1980s.

If you are drinking water from Ottawa hotels then you are knowingly putting your health at risk. So the best thing that you can do here is to have a filtered water bottle which allows you to have safe drinking water anywhere you are travelling or staying in Canada.

Is it safe to swim in the Ottawa River?

Is it safe to swim in the Ottawa River

Yes, it is safe to swim in the Ottawa River. However, it is not advised to do so, especially in the rainy season. Unfortunately, over the years, the Ottawa River has been contaminated by bacteria like E. coli which can cause stomach upset, and vomiting.

If you really want to swim in the Ottawa River, then first find a safe spot, which is somewhere located far away from the downtown of Ottawa.

If you want you can check out Mooney’s Bay, and Petrie Island which are considered relatively safer to swim.

What are the levels of chemicals in Ottawa tap water?

ChemicalPurposeTypical LevelSafety StandardWhere to find more info
ChlorineDisinfection0.1-0.3 ppm4 ppm (Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines)City of Ottawa water quality reports, EWG Tap Water Database
FluorideVaries depending on the source0.6-0.8 ppm1.5 ppm (Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines)City of Ottawa water quality reports, Canadian Drinking Water Quality Database
AluminumCoagulation and flocculation (water treatment)<0.1 mg/L0.2 mg/L (Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines)City of Ottawa water quality reports, Canadian Drinking Water Quality Database
CalciumMineral content20-40 mg/LVaries depending on sourceCity of Ottawa water quality reports, Canadian Drinking Water Quality Database
Other (varies)Trace minerals, disinfection byproductsLevels vary significantlyRegulated by individual standardsCity of Ottawa water quality reports, Canadian Drinking Water Quality Database

*This table represents typical levels and may not reflect the exact amount of each chemical present in your specific location. The safety standards listed in the table are those set by the Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines.

If you want to know more about the specific chemicals and their levels in Ottawa tap water in detail then you need to check out the EWG Tap Water Database and Canadian Drinking Water Quality Database.

Do I need to have travel insurance for Ottawa?

Yes, you should have travel insurance If you’re traveling anywhere in the world. However, all the health facilities are available free for citizens in Canada.

Being a tourist, you can’t afford to take the risk of falling ill and spending thousands of dollars on hospitals and medicines. So it’s better to have travel insurance which will cover all of your medical expenses, in case you fall ill during the trip.

Final Thoughts:  Is Ottawa Tap Water Safe to Drink?

Is Ottawa Tap Water Safe to Drink

Yes, absolutely. You can drink tap water in Ottawa but I highly advise you to filter it out first or boil it before drinking. Why is it so? Because you never know if the pipes that have been used or laid out are made up of iron or lead.

If you’re staying in an old home or an old hotel then there are chances that you might be getting water from the old lead pipes which upon corrosion cause leads to mix with the water.

So, the best way to keep yourself safe is by having a filtered water bottle. These are super easy to carry with you and you can have safe drinking water whenever you are going.

Not to mention Ottawa gets hot during the summer So you should have a water bottle that can filter out the impurities and keep you hydrated as you explore this beautiful city.

Falling sick, especially during the traveling can pretty much spoil your whole experience on the trip. So It’s better to have a filtered water bottle to protect yourself rather than falling ill.

Enjoy Exploring Ottawa

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