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Drinking Water Threats

Land-based human activity in vulnerable areas can impact the quality or quantity of drinking water sources, now and in the future.

The level of risk posed by a threat depends on the type, location, and scale of the activity. The Clean Water Act, 2006, requires threats that pose the greatest risk to be managed. These are called significant threats.

The Clean Water Act, 2006, identifies 22 activities that can pose a threat. To keep things simple, we’ve grouped them into the following categories.

Drinking Water Threats


Improperly maintained septic systems and storm water runoff can transport chemicals, bacteria and viruses into a drinking water source.

Unsafe handling or storage of products such as paint, fuel, used motor oil and solvents - a small quantity can contaminate large amounts of water. This category includes hydrocarbon pipelines.

Improper use or storage of products like paint removers, adhesives, stains, oils, and metal cleaner.

Storage and land application of pesticides, commercial fertilizers, and other nutrients (e.g. manure); livestock pasturing, grazing and confinement.

Excessive salt use on roads, parking lots, and other surfaces and stored salt that may be exposed to precipitation or runoff. 

Run-off from melting piles of plowed snow (e.g. in parking lots). Plowed snow is “dirty”, often contaminated by salt, oil, grease, heavy metals and other pollutants.

Taking water without replacing it and activities that prevent rain or snow from entering the ground can lead to a water shortage. This is not a Threat in the Otonabee-Peterborough Source Protection Area.

There is a local threat in the Otonabee-Peterborough Source Protection Area. It is landscaping (e.g. mown grass) that promotes waterfowl gathering next to watercourses.

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