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Utilities Kingston website

Frequently asked water quality questions


We take pride in providing safe, quality drinking water to residents and businesses in Kingston, Cana and Sydenham. Service excellence is important to us - if you have a question or concern about drinking water quality, please talk to one of our experts by calling 613-546-1181, extension 2291.

Below are answers to common questions about drinking water quality in Kingston, Cana or Sydenham. We hope this helps and look forward to assisting you.

    Reports on water quality

    Learn more about drinking water in Kingston. Download annual water quality reports.

    • General questions about drinking water

      • We’re proud of our drinking water. It exceeds strict Ministry of the Environment water quality standards and meets provincial regulations to ensure our water distribution system performs at a high level. View our annual reports on drinking water quality from our web page Water Quality Reports.

        Comments or questions about municipal drinking water are always welcome. Please call our Water Quality Assurance Operators at 613-546-1181, extension 2291.

      • For drinking and cooking (including boiling or making ice), we recommend using water from your cold tap. We know the water going into the water heater meets our quality standards. However, if your water heater is not maintained at the manufacturer recommended temperature settings, or if sediment is allowed to build up, this water could become a breeding ground for bacteria. (Always follow the manufacturer recommendations for maintaining your water heater.) 

        If you are thinking about replacing your water heater, consider renting from Utilities Kingston, this applies to Sydenham customers too. Find out more at or by calling one of our experts at 613-546-1181.

      • Although rare, an adverse test result or potential problem in the water treatment and distribution system may result in us asking customers to boil water before consuming it. This web page explains what you should do in case we take this precautionary measure to ensure your safety. 

      • A very small amount (0.3 per cent) of the pipes in Kingston’s municipal drinking water system are made of asbestos-cement (A-C) pipe. Our proactive asset management program ensures we remove and replace A-C pipe, when practical and in accordance with health and safety practices and procedures. Sydenham drinking water system does not contain any asbestos-cement (A-C) pipe.

      • Drinking water systems operated by Utilities Kingston meet or exceed Ontario’s strict water quality standards, in accordance with O. Reg. 169/03: Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards, under Ontario’s Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002.

        O. Reg. 169/03 does not require municipalities to test for asbestos in drinking water. Health Canada and the World Health Organization have concluded that there is no consistent, convincing evidence that asbestos ingested through water is harmful to your health. If you drink water containing asbestos fibres, you eliminate the fibres, mostly through feces. For this reason, Health Canada has not established drinking water guidelines for asbestos.

    • Drinking water parameters

      • As the water leaves treatment plants, we regularly test it according to Ministry of the Environment standards and know that the water leaving the Kingston water treatment plants is completely lead free. In fact, in most of Canada, the amount of lead in natural water supplies is very low. However, lead can enter the water supply from old lead service lines (pipes) or lead solder in the plumbing in your home. As well, the brass in some plumbing fixtures can contain high percentages of lead. You can consider becoming a community lead testing volunteer. Learn more from our web page about lead testing. The Sydenham municipal drinking water system does not contain any lead.

      • Utilities Kingston meets the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which provides for the protection of human health and the prevention of drinking water health hazards through the control and regulation of drinking water systems and drinking water testing. Fluoridation of drinking water is addressed in the provincial Fluoridation Act.

      • No.  We do not fluoridate municipal treated water. Fluoride is not required to be added to the water supply to ensure safe drinking water. Trace amounts of fluoride occur naturally.

      • Trace amounts of fluoride occur naturally in drinking water. Our annual reports on drinking water quality describe naturally-occurring fluoride levels and other parameters tested by accredited laboratories. Utilities Kingston does not add fluoride into the Kingston, Cana or Sydenham Drinking Water Systems.

      • Fluoride does not impact water quality. Kingston’s drinking water is safe. The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change completes annual inspections of all the water treatment systems operated by Utilities Kingston. Again in 2017, we received a 100 per cent rating for meeting the safety, operational, and compliance requirements under Ontario’s drinking water regulations.

      • By removing/inactivating harmful microorganisms, water treatment ensures safe, aesthetic drinking water. What’s left after treatment is water, non-harmful bacteria, minerals and trace amounts of other parameters (listed in our annual water quality reports).

    • Smell and taste

      • Your water heater may need to be flushed. Follow manufacturer’s instructions to do so. 

      • When water leaves the treatment plant, it adheres to strict water quality standards. However, a variety of scenarios at the service of the home or business can contribute to this taste. For example, when you connect a new garden hose, leaving it pressurized, the the sun can heat it up and force water back into the home’s plumbing. If you have concerns about water quality, please contact the water quality office at 613-546-1181, extension 2291.

      • Customers can help remove the taste and smell of chlorine by following these suggestions:

        • Fill an uncovered glass pitcher with water and place it in the refrigerator. Most of the chlorine will dissipate, plus you’ll conserve water by not running your tap each time you fill a glass.
        • Bring your water to a rolling boil for five minutes and allow the water to cool.
        • Add a lemon slice or a few drops of lemon juice to a glass of drinking water.
        • Use a carbon filter.
      • The smell may be venting from bacteria build-up in your drains. Try pouring a cup or two of bleach down the drain. Let sit for 15 minutes and then run the tap to flush. If the smell persists, call our water quality office at 613-546-1181 ex. 2291.

      • Utilities Kingston ensures all drinking water exceeds provincial water quality standards. In accordance with regulation, Utilities Kingston adds chlorine to disinfect your water and keep it free from harmful microorganisms. The levels of chlorine are harmless in the quantities used.

        A small quantity of chlorine stays in the water after treatment to ensure that the water remains disinfected from the treatment facility to your tap. You may occasionally experience a slight smell or taste of chlorine coming from your tap water (the water is still safe). For example, when outdoor temperatures fluctuate, chlorine becomes more volatile. Other times, depending on the quality of the source water supply, it may be necessary to adjust water treatment. This may include increasing the level of disinfectant to ensure your drinking water remains safe.

    • Appearance

      • Your water heater may need to be flushed. Follow manufacturer’s instructions to do so. 

      • This is most likely due to naturally-occurring, airborne bacteria in your home. The bacteria produce a pinkish film, and sometimes a dark gray film, on surfaces that are regularly moist, including toilet bowls, showerheads, sink drains, and tiles. Some people have even noted the pink residue in their pet's water bowl, which causes no apparent harm and can be easily cleaned off. 

        Cleaning and flushing with chlorine will not necessarily eliminate the problem, but will help to control these bacteria. If you have this issue on surfaces such as toilets, using a cleaning solution that contains chlorine will help curtail the onset of the bacteria. 

      • Activities on the water distribution system can disturb deposits that normally occur in water pipes. If you notice your tap water is brown or discoloured, please be assured the water is still safe. Flush your pipes until the water is clear again:

        1. Locate the cold water tap that is closest to your water meter.
        2. Run the cold water until it is clear. This may take 5 – 25 minutes.
        3. If the water does not clear and you are a Kingston, Cana, or Sydenham customer, please contact Utilities Kingston at 613-546-1181.