Water Quality FAQ

Water Quality FAQ

How do I know if my water is safe to drink?
I don't like the taste/smell/appearance of my tap water. What's wrong with it?
What if I have a severely compromised immune system?
What should I do if I have my own drinking water well?
What about bottled water?
What about home water treatment units?
Why are Fire Hydrants left open?

How do I know if my water is safe to drink?
The water in the St. John’s Region is regularly tested and meets or exceeds the guidelines set out in the Canadian Drinking Water Standards. Water samples are collected daily from sites throughout the distribution system. These samples are taken to the provincial Public Health Laboratory for testing. They are tested for total coliform and fecal/ E.coli.

I don't like the taste/smell/appearance of my tap water. What's wrong with it?
Even when water meets, and exceeds, Canadian Drinking Water standards, you may still object to its taste, smell or appearance. Common complaints about water aesthetics include temporary cloudiness (typically caused by air bubbles) or chlorine taste (which can be improved by letting the water stand exposed to the air).

What if I have a severely compromised immune system?
Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. People with severely compromised immune systems, such as people with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, people who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers.

What should I do if I have my own drinking water well?
If you have your own well, you are responsible for making sure that your water is safe to drink. Private wells should be tested annually for nitrate and coliform bacteria to detect contamination problems early. Test more frequently and for other contaminants, such as radon or pesticides, if you suspect a problem. Check with your local health department and the provincial Department of Environment to learn more about well water quality in your area and what contaminants you are more likely to find.

What about bottled water?
Bottled water is not necessarily safer than your tap water. Tap water provided by public water systems is regularly tested. Some bottled water is treated more than tap water, while some is treated less or not treated at all. Bottled water costs much more than tap water on a per gallon basis. Bottled water is valuable in emergency situations and high quality bottled water may be a desirable option for people with weakened immune systems. Consumers who choose to purchase bottled water should carefully read the label to understand what they are buying, whether it is a better taste and what method of treatment is used.

What about home water treatment units?
People do not need to treat their drinking water that is supplied by the City of St. John's to make it safe. A home water treatment unit can improve water's taste or provide an extra margin of safety for people more vulnerable to the effects of waterborne illness. Consumers who choose to purchase a home water treatment unit should carefully read its product information to understand what they are buying, the unit will provide a better taste or a certain method of treatment. Be certain to follow the manufacturer's instructions for operation and maintenance, especially changing the filter on a regular basis. The City of St. John’s neither endorses nor recommends specific home water treatment units. No single unit takes out every kind of drinking water contaminant; you must decide which type best meets your needs.

Why are Fire Hydrants left open?
Fire Hydrants are left open as part of water quality maintenance. Water pipes often need to be flushed to ensure that the pipes are free of sediment that often accumulates. Fire Hydrants are hooked up to the same system as our drinking water pipes and therefore the flushing is done for safety reasons.