Things I Learned About Our Water and Sewage

The new Council was treated to a tour of the Mississippi Mills facilities on December 13. This included the Ramsay Garage, the Waste Water Treatment Plant, the wellheads by the Almonte Water Tower, the Almonte Day Care, both libraries, both arenas, both Fire Stations, and the Almonte Old Town Hall. Robert Kennedy was our Tour Guide.

I especially enjoyed the Day Care (Santa Claus was just leaving) and the Waste Water Treatment facility. We learned a lot about each facility, but especially the Wellhead, where there are two things I was surprised to learn and want to share:

The water in Almonte is not fluoridated. I had thought it was . Although Health Canada recommends water flouridation for dental health, not all municipalities do so. Ottawa adds fluoride to the water it takes from the river. Fluoride occurs naturally in the earth and therefore in groundwater, but some parts of the world have too much (such as Utah, as I recall reading) and others not enough. Where the City of Ottawa gets its water via ground water from wells, such as around Carp, fluoride levels are naturally higher and they do not add fluoride. You may want to brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste more often.

I learned the reason that some people taste more chlorine in their water: they are closer to the wellhead where it is added. To make sure that your water is safe to drink, chlorine is added to it at the well. Enough chlorine must be added so that it is effective at the farthest end of the water distribution system. Therefore, the closer you live to the wellhead, the more chlorine you are likely to detect in your water. While campaigning, some people told me that they thought there was too much chlorine in the water. I am a mid-distance away from my service well, so I don’t notice the taste as much, and wondered why some did. It is not their imagination.

At the sewage treatment plant, only Councillor Holmes and I were brave enough to take a peek at the brown sludge being paddled in circles in big round bins. It had no odor, even up close. At the end of the tour, our guide lowered a mason jar on a hook into the treated outgoing water that was headed back into the Mississippi. He held it up for us to see: it was crystal clear. I notice that he didn’t drink from it, however!

To learn more about fluoride and chlorine in water generally, I went to the City of Ottawa’s Frequently Asked Questions page on Drinking Water: https://ottawa.ca/en/residents/water-and-environment/drinking-water/drinking-water-frequently-asked-questions

Mississippi River at Almonte Old Town Hall