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How Safe is Your Water?

Blog Post submitted by Rob Bell, President Mississippi Lakes Association

When we bought our property on Mississippi Lake almost 16 years ago, I was interested to learn that the water source for the property was from the lake and not a well. As time has passed, I have learned that many properties around the lake get all their water, including drinking water, from the lake using treatment such as sediment and carbon filtration along with UV sanitization.

Since I have been part of the Water Rangers Mississippi Lake sampling crew for the last few years (let me know if you’d like to join and be part of our sampling team! Email to: I know firsthand just how great the quality of Mississippi Lake water is, with its almost nonexistent mineral content and neutral pH. I have never had to haul salt for a water softener or have ever had any faucets ruined from iron! BUT lake water is a surface water source subject to many risks including contamination from stored fuel (ex. heating oil tanks), bacterial contamination (ex. leaky septic tanks, geese) and of course Blue Green Algae (cyanobacteria).

How serious are these risks? Can anything be done to limit them?

A Local, Lake Based Source Water Protection Report

Some important news is that these concerns are being considered in a recently released source water protection report entitled "A Look at Private Drinking Water Systems in the Upper-Middle Rideau Valley Watershed" by the Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Region.

Although our lake was not a part of the study, given the proximity of the lakes chosen and the similar communities that surround them, most if not all of the findings would apply to Mississippi Lake given that we belong to the same Source Protection Region.

From the executive summary:

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) released the Best Practices for Source Water Protection to help individuals with private drinking water systems assess the risk/vulnerability of their drinking water source and inform them on how to properly protect their drinking water. Alongside the Best Practices, MECP committed new funding for Conservation Authorities to conduct pilot programs to provide advice and support to people with non-municipal drinking water systems not included in a Source Protection Plan (SPP).

In 2022, the Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Region (MRSPR) initiated a project to address concerns raised by local lake associations. These concerns were focused on waterfront property owners sourcing their drinking water from the lake through surface water intakes and the drinking water risks associated with blue-green algae or harmful algae blooms.

The project focused on seven lakes: Bass Lake, Christie Lake, Eagle Lake, Otter Lake, Otty Lake, Upper Rideau Lake, and Wolfe Lake. Phase 1 aimed to assess vulnerability, risks, and estimate the number of homes relying on surface water intakes. The results highlighted the need for enhanced protection of private drinking water sources, both surface water and groundwater, leading to Phase 2.

In Phase 2, a non-legally binding policy will be introduced, intended for inclusion in our region's Source Protection Plan. This introduction will pave the way for establishing a multidisciplinary working group. The primary objective of this effort is to enhance the protection of private drinking water systems. Essential components of this initiative include conducting research on the impact of blue-green algae and creating an educational video series addressing surface water issues.

MRSPR's aims to address knowledge gaps, raise awareness, and ensure safer water for the community.

If you would like to read the full report, please send a request to Bharti Yadav who can be reached at

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