Water Quality

It is in the best interest of all residents of any community to keep all water including bay or lake water, ground water or well water as clean as possible. This article will include information on private wells, watersheds and Georgian Bay as a factor in the health of the water that comes out of your tap. Treatment of the water from a private source coming into your home or cottage is the homeowners responsibility. There are many ways to ensure your drinking water supply is healthy including micron filtration, ultraviolet light, chlorination, ozonation and reverse osmosis etc. The Public Health Unit suggests that residents test well water 3 times a year for E Coli and coliform. This is free of charge. Water sample bottles can be obtained from the Public Health Office, 101 17th St. East, Owen Sound, 519-376-9420 or Grey Bruce Health Unit/ Wiarton Hospital.

The Public Health Unit also monitors the public beach areas. www.publichealthgreybruce.on.ca/Your-Environment/Safe-Water/Private-Drinking-Water

Well owners, including shallow shore wells, may also consider a more comprehensive test for substances including metals, fuels and solvents if there are concerns. This type of testing would involve a private water testing lab and is ‘fee for serviceʼ. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/environmental-workplace-health/reports-publications/water-quality/what-your-well-guide-well-water-treatment-maintenance.html

Microbial contaminants such as bacteria, parasites and viruses along with septic water and grey water, toxic chemicals such as pesticides, fertilizers, other agricultural run off and industrial effluents can all have a negative effect on water quality. Apart from the obvious impact on water safety in terms of drinking water, swimming and tourism appeal, poor water quality can also lead to nuisance and toxic algal blooms and in extreme cases can result in the death of fish, other water creatures and birds. With over 8,000 kms of shoreline on Georgian Bay and 3,700 aquatic marshes in Eastern and Northern Georgian Bay, this area provides high quality habitat for fish, amphibians, reptiles,
insects, birds, waterfowl and numerous in water and coastal plant species.

Wetlands play an important role in maintaining overall water quality. Wetlands perform a type of water treatment function, filtering sediments as well as contaminants such as pesticides from air and water, which helps control water pollution. They also filter excess nutrients reducing harmful concentrations of phosphorus and nitrogen. Most wetlands in the Great Lakes have already been lost or degraded due to human disturbance. More than 50% of the wetlands in Lakes Michigan, Erie and Ontario have been negatively affected. But in Lakes Superior, Huron and Georgian Bay over 70% have been minimally impacted. Georgian Bayʼs wetlands remain abundant and in pristine conditions and are considered to be the least human disturbed wetlands on the Great Lakes. The water chemistry of Georgian Bay is a mix of more ‘hard waterʼ from the Western shores influenced by water draining the limestone bedrock and water draining the granite bedrock of the Canadian Shield on the Eastern and Northern shores. This ‘soft waterʼ tends to have a light brown coloration due to tannins and other acids originating from more acidic bog drainage. In most large bodies of water chemistry is relatively uniform throughout the main lake basin because of wind driven mixing giving us clear, colourless, less acidic and water higher in alkalinity and dissolved minerals. These influences are from the large areas of limestone bedrock on the Western shores.

Water quality in Georgian Bay remains relatively pristine in most areas. Areas of concern are in higher densities of shore development and in lower levels of water exchanges with the open bay. www.georgianbaygreatlakesfoundation.com/water/water-quality

Grey Sauble Conservation and the Ministry of the Environment monitor surface water and ground water quality. GSC samples 10 watershed sites and 10 groundwater wells 8 times per year and share this data with the MOE. www1.greysauble.on.ca/water-management/water-qualitybenthic-monitoring/