How do I affect water quality and supply?
Effective management of our vast freshwater resources and prevention of water pollution are essential to ensuring the health and wellness and to protecting Canada’s ecosystems. Human actions – such as wasteful amounts of water use and improper disposal of toxic chemicals – can affect both the quality and quantity of Canada’s water.
How does water quality and supply affect me?
The consumption of poor-quality drinking water can have a serious impact on public health. Canadian drinking water supplies are generally of excellent quality; however, water is never pure – it picks up bits and pieces of everything it comes into contact with, including minerals, silt, vegetation, fertilizers and agricultural run-off. While many of these substances are harmless, some may pose a health risk.
The most significant risks to people's health from drinking water come from microscopic organisms such as disease-causing bacteria, protozoa and viruses. The health effects associated with these organisms can be quite severe, and can also affect health over the long-term
Chemical contaminants may also be found in groundwater, and generally only pose a health risk if they are present above guideline levels and people are exposed to them over a period of years. However, new science is showing that exposure to some of these contaminants above guideline levels may be a concern in the short-term as well.
How does water quality affect the environment?
The degradation of water bodies by human waste and industrial activities can seriously harm fish and other wildlife. Each body of water is a delicately balanced ecosystem in continuous interaction with the surrounding air and land. If a substance enters a river or lake, the water can purify itself biologically – but only to a degree. Freshwater bodies have a great ability to break down some waste materials, but not in the quantities discarded by today's society. As well, there are many persistent pollutants that are affected slowly, or not at all, by this process. The result of this overload is pollution, and it eventually puts the ecosystem out of balance. Toxic chemicals in aquatic ecosystems can cause reduced fertility, genetic deformities, immune system damage, tumours and death in fish and wildlife.
How can I make a difference?
From the tap to the tub to the toilet, you can preserve and protect our water supply by making small changes in your everyday life. You can cut your water use nearly in half by reducing your home water use habits and by repairing and retrofitting your water devices and appliances.
You can do you part for water quality by avoiding hazardous household products and pesticides. As well, don’t misuse the sewage system – throwing waste down the toilet or drain can create problems with sewage treatment and contributes to land and water pollution.
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