Presented by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment
Ah, water, it’s always there when you need it! Like when you’re thirsty, need to brush your teeth, flush the toilet, take a shower, wash the car, go for a swim, have a bath, cook something, make ice cubes. The list goes on and on. If you actually think about it, you probably use water more times in a day than you can count on both of your hands! But have you ever stopped to think about where it comes from? And I’m not just talking about out of the tap, Captain Obvious.
Did you know… 26 per cent of Canadians don’t have any idea where their tap water comes from!
It’s so easy to get our hands on water, we rarely think about where exactly it comes from. So, where does our water come from?
In Canada our water comes from three main sources:
- The Great Lakes (that’d be: Huron, Ontario, Erie and Superior)
- Rivers and streams
The Great Lakes store a whopping 95 per cent of the freshwater for all of North America! That’s about one-fifth of the entire world’s supply of fresh surface water, and only 1 per cent of this water is renewed every year by rain and snowfall.
Then there’s groundwater (the stuff you can’t see because it’s hidden in layers underground). In Canada, 25 per cent of people get their water this way, from private and municipal wells. Even though it might seem like water is super easy to come by, that’s not always the case. Canada has experienced droughts before, with lakes and rivers drying up. And there are other threats to our water supplies as well, including:
- Climate change
- Pollution (e.g. pesticides, fertilizers and road salt washed off fields and roads into waterways)
- Chemical or industrial spills (e.g. oil)
- Animal and human waste
- Loss of native plants and animals that help keep our water clean by acting as natural filters
- Introduction of non-native (or invasive) species that reduce water quality
In Ontario, the province works with the municipalities to protect our drinking water. Now that you have a better idea of where your water comes from, you’re probably looking to learn more! Here are some good places to get started:
- To find your local municipal source of drinking water, and see how clean it is, check out the Municipal Drinking Water Quality interactive map.
- Learn more about groundwater and why it’s so important here
Help the Ministry of the Environment and Earth Rangers
protect our natural world. Together we can make a difference.