Can I drink the tap water in Toronto? Do I need a water filter in Toronto?
Toronto tap water comes from the bordering Lake Ontario and is safe according to Canadian standards. The City has come a long way since the typhoid epidemics of the 1800s. As a matter of fact, Toronto was one of the first cities in the world to introduce Chlorine to tap water in order to kill pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.
Despite the water being safe to drink, some areas might find that water tastes and smells bad, because of that same Chlorine. Then there is the risk of lead, for buildings built before the mid-1950s. The City has been raising awareness, especially concerning young children, and the most convenient and affordable solution to remove the risk of lead exposure is to use a water filter.
Can you drink Toronto tap water? Yes! However, using a filter such as TAPP, will remove any undesired smell or taste, due to chlorine as well as lead from old infrastructure, while keeping the healthy mineral, leaving you with clean, healthy water.
Where does Toronto tap water come from?
Toronto tap water comes exclusively from Lake Ontario. It gets pumped to four distinct water treatment plants located around the city. These plants operate 24/7 to deliver over 1 billion litres of drinking water! Lake water is run through screens to remove large debris and then through filters to remove additional impurities. Depending on the treatment plant, water is disinfected by using either chlorine or ozone.
Additionally, the Island Water Treatment Plant, which is located on Center Island, uses the consistently cool temperature from the lake to chill downtown buildings during the summer!
After the disinfection process, water flows through a succession of filters such as gravel, sand, and carbon to remove impurities and more bacteria. In order to distribute the water all the way to everyone’s tap, chlorine, fluoride, ammonia and phosphoric acid are added. Chlorine keeps microorganisms out of the distribution system, fluoride to help prevent tooth decay, ammonia to turn chlorine into chloramine to reduce smell and taste of the latter, and finally, phosphoric acid is used to reduce the risk of lead leaching into drinking water.
Once water enters Toronto’s distribution system, it is tested every 6 hours at dedicated water sampling stations. Water must comply with the health standards set out in the Safe Drinking Water Act set by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).
Can I drink the tap water in Toronto?
Yes, it’s generally safe to drink the tap water. But if you want to be on the safe side for your family and children it’s a good idea to use a water filter in Toronto. An affordable faucet water filter such as TAPP will reduce lead, remove bad taste and smell linked with chlorine protect from potential contaminants which are still under-regulated such as microplastics. TAPP removes lead, microplastics, pesticides, chlorine and its byproducts as well as reducing nitrates and arsenic.
What is in Toronto tap water and who regulates it?
Despite regulations on water quality, it is difficult to predict the exact composition of water at your faucet. Lead, very commonly used in buildings prior to the 1950s. Atrazine, for example, a pesticide that is very commonly used in Canada remains below the Canadian maximum limits, but well beyond the European standards, which ban its use.
In Canada, tap water is regulated by the Federal Agency, who delegate control to municipalities, and forces them to publish their results.
What about bottled water in Toronto?
When it comes to bottled water, neither regulations nor ministries directives specify how and how often water should be sampled. The latter is considered a food and is therefore subject to the “Food and Drugs Act.’’ Bottling plants are inspected annually by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), while municipal water is tested several times a day. In addition, except for arsenic, lead, and coliform, the Food Act does not provide limits on other contaminants, simply citing that water may not contain ‘poisonous or harmful substances’. No law requires water bottle companies to publish reports on water quality. Moreover, according to water research by OrbMedia microplastics were found all over the world.
There is no scientific evidence that bottled water is healthier than tap or filtered tap water.
To sum up, tap water is much more regulated than bottled water. If you want to know the composition of your water, tap water is your safest bet.
Do I need a water filter in Toronto?
The water that comes from the water treatment plants in Toronto is safe to drink without a water filter. The issue in Toronto is mainly leaching from pipes after treatment which can cause elevated levels of lead and chlorine by-products. In addition to this unregulated contaminants such as microplastics and PFAS could pose a health threat. Therefore using a water filter for Toronto tap water is a good way to reduce risk.
TAPP 2 has been designed and tested for tap water in North America with independent lab tests carried out in Toronto.
Read more about How water filters work.
Drinking water in public places and restaurants
In Toronto, it is very easy to ask for water at a bar or a restaurant. Very few places refuse. It may happen in some very rare cases, that a restaurant forces patrons to buy a bottle. No law prohibits them to do so.
With respect to water fountains, there are about 700 public drinking fountains in Toronto, the vast majority of which are located in parks. You can also them using the MyTAPP app on iOS and Android, which has worldwide coverage.
Bottled water and plastic pollution
Tap water is generally safe for most Canadians. Despite this, the bottled water industry generates $2.5 billion in sales, mainly through Nestlé and its brands: Pure Life, Perrier, S. Pellegrino, Acqua Panna or Montclair.
Plastic bottles can take up to 400 years to decompose. Most of those that are not recycled, end up abroad – generating more greenhouse gas. Toronto alone consumes 100 million bottles a year. The recycling rate in the city is notoriously bad, as low as 51.6% in 2015 considering all recyclables. Unfortunately, the bottle bill in Ontario does not apply to plastic bottles, which should end up in the Blue Bin along with other recyclables.
Not only does bottled water have a negative environmental impact, it is interesting to note that it costs more than gasoline per gallon. Moreover, in 25% of cases, bottled water is just filtered municipal water sold at a premium according to the Canadian Bottled Water Association. Pepsi’s Aquafina brand uses filtered municipal tap water from Mississauga!
To reduce your environmental footprint, the best solution is to use reusable bottles and fill them with tap water or filtered tap water. Using a water filter in Toronto like TAPP, you will never need to use any plastic linked with your water consumption. When it’s time to change the filter, dispose of its biodegradable cartridge in the compost or with organic waste.
- Toronto tap water is safe to drink according to criteria established by the Federal Agency.
- Bottled water is considered a food, and is subject to the “Food and Drugs Act.”, which does not define strict criteria. More importantly there is no evidence that bottled water is healthier than tap water and it’s bad for the environment so avoid if you can.
- Lead leaching from old infrastructure in buildings constructed prior to the 1980’s can be an issue in Toronto
- To be on the safe side use a water filter in Toronto like TAPP that improves taste and removes lead, microplastics and other potential contaminants
- There are over 700 water fountains spread across Toronto to fill up your water bottle.
Do you drink tap water in Toronto? We want your feedback and opinion. Agree or disagree? Tell us!
- What is the best Toronto water filter?
- Best Water Filters 2019