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FAQs

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This page contains the answers to some frequently asked questions received by our Customer Service section in Kawartha Lakes Water and Wastewater Division. Questions have been organized by topic to provide a convenient and quick method of finding answers to common questions.

If you have a question that is not answered here, please call the Water and Wastewater Division at 705-324-9411 ext 1121 Mon to Fri 08:30 to 16:30

Contents

General Info

General Water Supply System

Before it reaches our taps, water undergoes a thorough purification process. It is screened to remove debris, chemically treated, filtered, disinfected and then pumped to a distribution system before it reaches our homes. All the water that comes into our homes, whether it is used for drinking or watering lawns, must go through this extensive treatment process.

Water is treated and tested in accordance with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change requirements, which regulate both quality and quantity. After treatment, water is delivered to the customer through a system of watermains, pumping stations and reservoirs and towers.

How many systems does Kawartha Lakes have?

  • 21 Drinking Water Systems in total
  • 6 Surface Water
  • 15 Ground Water
  • 5 Water Pollution Control Plants
  • 36 Community Wells

Anyone wishing to obtain a copy of the City of Kawartha Lakes Annual Sewage Treatment Reports or the Annual NPRI Report for the Lindsay Wastewater Treatment Plant can contact Water and Wastewater at (705) 324-9411 ext. 1121.

What portion of my water services is my responsibility and what portion is the City's responsibility?

Anything inside of the property line is the responsibility of the owner while services outside of the property fall within the City's jurisdiction.

Diagram of resident showing homeowner water service reponsibility and City responsibility

Who is the “owner” of the City of Kawartha Lakes Drinking Water Systems? Who is the “operator”

The owner of the 21 drinking water systems in Kawartha Lakes is the Corporation of the City of Kawartha Lakes, as represented by Mayor and Council. The accredited operating authorities are: The Water and Wastewater Division of The City of Kawartha Lakes (for the Lindsay Water Treatment Plant and all Distribution and Wastewater Collection Systems throughout the municipality) and OCWA (Ontario Clean Water Agency) for the remaining 20 smaller treatment systems.

Are the Drinking Water Systems in the City of Kawartha Lakes licensed?

Yes. In Ontario, it is a mandated requirement for all municipal drinking water systems that provide water to residences in a community to have a licence from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.

Am I able to read any reports regarding drinking water quality in the City of Kawartha Lakes?

Yes. Annual Drinking Water Reports, Wastewater Reports, Water Hardness Reports and others are located under ‘Reports’ in the Water and Wastewater section of the City of Kawartha Lakes website.

How often are municipal residential drinking water systems inspected?

Every municipal residential drinking water system is inspected at least once a year by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. Inspections include the review of a system’s source, treatment and distribution components as well as water quality monitoring results and procedures to evaluate system management and operations. The MOECC then prepares an inspection report (included in the Reports section/) that includes an inspection rating out of 100 per cent. (The inspection rating for the Lindsay Water Treatment Plant following the last MOECC inspection was 100 per cent.)

Are the drinking water operators in the City of Kawartha Lakes competent?

Yes. Drinking water operators in Ontario must be certified and trained according the type and complexity (class) of the drinking water system they operate. Operators are required to go through rigorous training, write examinations, and meet mandatory continuing education requirements to renew and maintain their certification. Each operator licence is valid for three years. To renew their licence, operators must complete 40 hours (for our Class III Distribution System), and 50 hours (for our Class IV Water Treatment System), of training per year on subjects related to the duties of a water system operator. Continuing education helps operators steadily improve their knowledge and skills throughout their careers.

What can I flush down the toilet?

Waste, water and toilet paper. Nothing else.

Why have I suddenly lost water pressure?

Low water pressure can be caused by a mainbreak or other construction/repair in your neighborhood or if a valve near your home has not been fully closed. It can also occur when Water and Wastewater staff is flushing. Should you experience a sudden loss in pressure, please refer to the City website for any Water and Wastewater notices or updates or contact the Water and Wastewater Department at (705) 324 9411 ext. 1121

Why is Water Conservation important?

Water conservation helps to reduce water and energy consumption, lowers long-term infrastructure costs, increases water sustainability and protects the environment. It is estimated that every additional litre of water capacity costs roughly four dollars for expanded water and wastewater infrastructure. Many municipalities in Ontario are realizing significant savings from water conservation measures. The cost of energy to pump, distribute and treat water and wastewater is a significant expense; saving water saves money, energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Better water management has the potential to be one of the most cost-effective energy reduction strategies for Ontario’s municipalities.

Why is Drinking Water so expensive?

Many factors affect the cost of drinking water. The infrastructure (the set of interconnected structural elements that provide the framework for supporting the operation of the drinking water system) required for drinking water systems is expensive – replacing and updating infrastructure, especially in areas where older infrastructure is the norm – costs a municipality a large amount of money. The electricity required to deliver drinking water is also expensive. Pumping and distributing water to homes and businesses, and treating water and wastewater makes up one-third to one-half of a municipal government’s total electrical use, which is double that of other municipal costs such as street lighting. Water loss is another large expense for municipalities. According to Environment Canada, 10.6 per cent of water produced at municipal water treatment facilities in Ontario is loss, mainly due to leaks in the distribution system (the network of pipes, valves, fire hydrants, storage tanks, reservoirs and pumping stations that carry water to customers.) Licensing, treatment chemicals and equipment, staffing, emergency preparedness, city fire protection services, replacement of assets, changes in technology, inflation and many other factors all contribute to the cost of delivering safe, high quality drinking water. For further information, the City of Kawartha Lakes Water and Wastewater Rate Study and Financial Plan are available in the programs section for Water and Wastewater under the Drinking Water Quality Management Standard program.

Who do I call if I have questions regarding my water bill?

Please contact the Utility Billing Department at (705) 324 9411.

Who should I call regarding new connections?

Please contact the Utility Billing Department.  (705) 324 9411.

What is the Drinking Water Quality Management Standard?

The Drinking Water Quality Management Standard (otherwise known as DWQMS) is a standard mandated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (2002), and was introduced to provide structure and mandated process for the owners of residential municipal drinking water systems. For more information regarding the DWQMS, please see the Drinking Water Quality Management Standard section under ‘Programs’.

I occasionally hear warnings about salespeople approaching homes acting as City employees. How do I know if these people are affiliated with the municipality?

All City employees carry identification with the CKL Logo. In addition, should the City require access to residences for any reason (i.e., lead testing), there will be a notice posted on the City website as well as on social media (Facebook and Twitter.) City employees will never approach residents to sell them anything. Residents should always be careful about who they are letting into their homes. Check for City vehicles parked on your street and request that any individual who approaches your home provide identification. Check the website for notices and when in doubt, call the City Service Department or the Water and Wastewater Department at (705) 324 9411 extension 1121

Frozen Water Lines

How do I know if my water line is frozen?

Open the tap closest to where the line enters your house and if there is abnormally low flow or none at all then the line could be frozen.  Call a plumbing contractor right away.

Can I thaw the lines myself and how do I do that if they become frozen?

We recommend that you call a licensed plumbing contractor to do this; attempting to thaw or repair a frozen line if you do not have experience, could create a leak and cause damage, which may create an insurance issue for you.

Does the City cover the cost of thawing or heating a line?

No the City does not cover these charges. It is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain and/or replace the portion of the water service located within the building, and between the building to the property line. However, if the City water mains are frozen on the City property (outside and beyond your property line) the City is responsible for these costs.

If I let the water tap ‘trickle’ to help keep the water line from freezing, who pays for the water usage costs?

This is a cost to the homeowner.  However, the cost is much less than the cost to repair a damaged water line or valve. The risk is higher for property owners who have previously experienced frozen services.

How long should I run my taps and how fast?

A steady stream of about 6 mm or ¼ inch (approximately thickness of a drinking straw) should be sufficient and it should run all night and day until the extreme cold temperatures rise. Please note this measure is not necessary if you have never experienced frozen lines in the past.  Again, we recommend you call a licensed plumbing contractor to assess your personal situation and provide further guidance.

How can I warm my basement or crawl space if it isn’t heated?

Use a small micro-furnace or box heater with a thermostat to control temperature so that it does not get lower than 5 degrees above zero. Be sure to use caution, especially around flammable materials.

How can I reduce the risk of frozen water pipes?

When extremely cold weather hits, the City suggests the following:

  • Leave kitchen, laundry, or bathroom cabinet doors open to allow for warm air circulation around water pipes, especially those that are located on exterior walls. Please ensure all chemicals, cleaners etc. are out of reach of your children and family pets.
  • Maintain a minimum household temperature of 550F or 130C
  • Ensure outside faucets are drained and turned off.
  • Use specially designed foam pipe insulation to wrap pipes located near exterior walls and in crawl spaces or attics.
  • Seal air leaks in your home and garage and close the garage door to keep the cold air away from pipes close to the area.
  • If you are going away, shut off the valve in the basement and drain all the lines by opening taps and have someone check your home frequently.
  • If you are experiencing issues with frozen waterlines speak with your plumbing contractor to discuss lowering your water service to a depth of at least 2 metres and ensuring waterlines on exterior walls are protected/insulated.

Sampling, Testing and Monitoring

How often is my water tested?

Our staff and Operating Authority regularly test our water to ensure the ongoing health and safety or our community. Samples are collected for bacteriological analysis on the raw water and treated water as per the Ontario Safe Drinking Water Act.

Inorganic and organic testing is carried out regularly as per the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act and in conjunction with the Municipal Drinking Water Licence specifications to each plant. This includes all parameters required by the Ontario Drinking Water Standards (ODWS). A copy of the ODWS may be found at www.ene.gov.on.ca.

Distribution system samples are collected as per Ministry of Environment and Climate Change regulations. Chlorine levels in the distribution system are measured at the time of sample collection. The samples are analyzed for Total Coliform, Escherichia Coli and Heterotrophic Plate Counts.

Is my water tested for lead?

Yes. For more information on our Lead Sampling Program, please refer to the Programs section

Drinking Water Aesthetics and Properties

Is my drinking water safe to drink?

Yes, Kawartha Lakes water is safe to drink. Before it reaches our taps, water undergoes a thorough purification process. Licensed operators ensure that water is screened to remove debris, chemically treated, filtered and disinfected in accordance with strict Ministry of Environment and Climate Change requirements before it is distributed to the public.

Is fluoride added to my drinking water?

No, Kawartha Lakes does not add fluoride to the water supply.

Why is my water a yellow or rusty colour?

Water main repairs, construction and other maintenance work in our area can cause some rust and scale products which normally adhere to the inside of the water main to break away. Open fire hydrants can also cause this temporary inconvenience. The discoloured water is safe to drink, but may cause water to appear dirty or may stain your laundry.

If this condition occurs in your system, allow a cold water tap to run for a good five to ten minutes, or until the water clears. If the condition persists, please call our Water and Wastewater Division (705) 324-9411 ext 1121.

For more infomration, read the Taste and Odour Fact Sheet (PDF).

What is water hardness?

Hardness is calculated using the calcium and magnesium concentration in the water. It is expressed as mg/L calcium carbonate or in grains per gallon (imperial or US). One grain per imperial gallon equals 14.25 mg/L calcium carbonate and one grain per US gallon equals 17.1 mg/L calcium carbonate

How hard is Kawartha Lakes Drinking Water Systems?

Read the following document: Water Hardness for City of Kawartha Lakes Drinking Water Systems (PDF)

Why can I taste chlorine in my drinking water?

Chlorine is added to water during the treatment process in order to control bacterial, algae and viruses present in the water. Chlorine is essential for public safety and although we do our best to ensure that the addition of this chemical does not affect the taste and odor of the water, occasionally this cannot be eliminated entirely. A small amount of the chemical is required to remain in the water throughout the distribution system to ensure that re-contamination does not occur once the water leaves the treatment plant. Should the taste of your water be unpleasant, place a jug of water with a loose-fitting lid in your fridge overnight. (Within 6 hours the chlorine will have dissipated.)

For more information regarding chlorine and drinking water, please visit Health Canada at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index-eng.php

My water has an earthy-musty odour. Is it safe to drink?

Yes. The presence of naturally occurring algae and higher water temperatures during the summer can cause a noticeable, musty taste and odor. While this can be unpleasant, testing confirms that the bacteriological quality of the water continues to be safe for human consumption. Studies are currently being conducted by the MOECC to determine ways in which to reduce or eliminate this aesthetic issue.

Why is my water grey or cloudy?

This effect is caused by the suspension of very fine air bubbles which give the water a grey or cloudy appearance. Place the water in a clear glass and place it on the counter. Within 3-5 minutes you will notice the water clearing from the bottom of the glass towards the top.

Should I be concerned about sodium in my drinking water? 

Sodium is an essential mineral for humans and we all need a small amount to keep our bodies functioning properly. At healthy levels, sodium helps us to: maintain blood pressure, control fluid levels and maintain normal nerve and muscle function. Sodium is found in most foods, soft water, some mineral waters and certain drugs (i.e. antacids). It can also be found in drinking water supplies, however the most common sources of sodium in drinking water are from natural occurrences, road salt (runoff), treatment chemicals and ion-exchange water softening units.

In Ontario, the Safe Drinking Water Act (O. Reg. 170/03) and the Small Drinking Water Systems Regulation (O. Reg. 319/08) require owners/operators to report to the local Medical Officer of Health (MOH) when sodium levels in the public drinking water supply exceed 20 mg/L. Once notified the MOH may inform local physicians. The MOH may also require the owner/operator of the drinking water system to advise consumers that sodium levels are higher than normal. The City of Kawartha Lakes regularly tests the sodium levels in its drinking water and immediately reports any sodium exceedance to the MOH.

For most people, sodium in the drinking water poses no health concern, but it may be an issue for those suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure), congestive heart failure or any other medical condition requiring a low-sodium diet.

To put the issue into perspective, consider this: If the sodium concentration in your drinking water were to increase to 20 mg/L, (which is not usual), drinking up to two litres of water per day would add 40mg/L of sodium to your diet which is the equivalent of 2% of a teaspoon of salt (less than one slice of white bread), which for healthy adults does not pose a risk. Even for those individuals on sodium-restricted diets of 500mg per day, two litres of water would only account for 8% of their daily allotment of sodium.

Comparison Table:

 

Food

 

Amount

 

Sodium Content in Food

Cream-based soup

1 cup

1080 mg

Cube of Cheddar Cheese

30 g (1 cube)

210 mg

White Bread

1 slice

195 mg

Apple

Approx. 125 mg

1 mg

Carbonated Cola

368 g (1 can)

15 mg

Potato Chips

100 g

525 mg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should you have concerns regarding your diet and how much sodium is healthy for you, please contact your physician.

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