Government of Nova Scotia
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Environment

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Drinking Water

About Public Drinking Water Supplies

Myth:

Water that looks, smells, and tastes good, is safe to drink.

Reality:

Some harmful contaminants can exist within a water supply that can only be detected by specialized testing. The only way to know for sure that your water is safe is to have it tested on a regular basis.

Access to clean drinking water is essential for good health. Our bodies need about two and a half litres of water a day. Water transports nutrients throughout the body, aids in the elimination of waste, and helps maintain the delicate electrolytic balance within cells. We must have clean water to drink.

What is a public drinking water supply?

A "public drinking water supply” means a water supply system, including any source, intake, treatment, storage, transmission or distribution, that is intended to provide the public with potable, piped water and that:

  1. has at least 15 service connections,
  2. regularly serves 25 or more persons per day for at least 60 days of the year, or
  3. serves any of the following for at least 60 days of the year:
  1. a day care facility licensed in accordance with the Day Care Act,
  2. a permanent food establishment licensed in accordance with the Health Protection Act,
  3. a commercial property for the accommodation of the travelling or vacationing public comprising land used for camping or for overnight parking of recreational vehicles or containing a separate building or buildings containing at least 1 room to be used as an alternate form of accommodation in a campground,
  4. a commercial property for the accommodation of the travelling or vacationing public containing more than 4 rental units, including cottages or cabins.

Public drinking water comes from streams, rivers, lakes, springs and underground aquifers. Although Canadian drinking water is among the best in the world, it is necessary to ensure its safety by completing regular testing.

How many public drinking water supplies are there in Nova Scotia?

Approximately 1,600.

Who tests public water supplies?

Beginning October 1, 2000, all public water supplies will be tested by public drinking water supply owners. The Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour will conduct periodic audits of these water supplies in order to ensure their safety.

Why should drinking water be tested?

Canadian drinking water is safer today than ever, yet regular testing for bacteria and chemicals will ensure its safety. Aesthetic parameters such as taste, smell, and appearance are not the only measurements of water quality. In fact many harmful and potentially lethal chemicals and bacteria can only be found by proper testing.

How can you tell if drinking water is contaminated?

Bottom line is, you can´t tell if it´s contaminated unless you have it tested. Smell and discoloration can be indicators of contamination.

What is safe drinking water?

Water that meets the health based criteria specified in the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, published by Health Canada.

Where can drinking water be tested and how much does it cost?

There are several labs across the province which will test your water. A bacteria test will cost approximately $25.00 and a chemical test will cost approximately $230.00, or more, depending on the test package that is requested.