Page 8: Guidance For Providing Safe Drinking Water in Areas of Federal Jurisdiction – Version 2

Appendix B: Glossary

For the sake of clarity, key terms have been defined in the glossary specifically for the purpose of this document. They may differ slightly from standard dictionary definitions.

Aesthetic Objective (AO)
Aesthetic objectives are established under the GCDWQ for parameters which may affect consumer acceptance of the water even though the substance in question is found at concentrations below which health effects appear. These parameters generally affect characteristics such as taste, odour and colour.
Aquifer
A geological formation of permeable rock, sand or gravel that conducts groundwater and yields significant quantities of water to springs and wells (CDW and CCME, 2004).
Baseline chemical analysis
An analysis of all chemical parameters with maximum acceptable concentrations (MACs) in the GCDWQ. The analysis should include screening for radiological parameters where feasible or warranted. Departments may also choose to include specific parameters with aesthetic and/or operational values. See also "Sanitary survey", "Vulnerabilities assessment" and "Monitoring program".
Biofilm
A community of microorganisms attached to a solid surface, such as the inside wall of a pipe, in an aquatic environment.
Boil water advisory
Advice given to the public by the responsible authority to boil their water to address microbiological concerns, regardless of whether this advice is precautionary or in response to an outbreak. Jurisdictions may use variances of this term, such as boil water order. See Sections 4.4 and 6.6 (Box 6.1).
Cistern
A small, covered tank, usually placed underground, in which potable water is stored for household purposes (AWWA, 2000).
Chlorine residual
Where chlorine or chloramine is used as a secondary disinfectant, chlorine residual is the concentration of chlorine species present in water after the oxidant demand has been satisfied.
Drinking water system
All aspects from the point of collection of water to the consumer (can include intakes, treatment systems, service reservoirs, distribution and plumbing systems, storage reservoirs and supply systems).

For the purpose of this document, federal drinking water systems have been broken down into the following categories:

  • Large systems: serve more than 5000 people.
  • Small systems: serve between 501 and 5000 people.
  • Very small systems: serve between 26 and 500 people.
  • Micro-systems: serve up to and including 25 people.
See also "Unique facility/situation".
Due diligence
Taking every precaution reasonable, in the circumstances, to avoid harm or loss. In the context of drinking water, taking every reasonable precaution means implementing the multi-barrier approach to safe drinking water (GOC, 2009).
Federal facility
Any federal government infrastructure that provides access to a drinking water supply, including, but not limited to, federal buildings and hand pumps designed to provide drinking water, whether freestanding or not.
GCDWQ
Refers to the most recent version of the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. The GCDWQ are established by the CDW and establish limits for contaminants and parameters. These limits may be health-based (i.e., MAC) or not (i.e. AO, operational guidance value). See Section 2.1 for more details.
Guidance document
Document developed as part of the GCDWQ to: (1) provide operational or management guidance related to a specific drinking water-related issues (such as boil water advisories); or (2) make risk assessment information available when a guideline is not deemed necessary.
Guideline technical document
Document, developed as part of the GCDWQ, that provides the scientific and technical basis for the establishment of the guideline for a specific parameter, including any risk management decision.
Groundwater
The water found in underground aquifers which supplies wells and springs (CDW and CCME, 2004). For the purpose of this document, refers to groundwater from an aquifer where microbiological contamination is unlikely to occur due to the formation of the rock which protects the aquifer. It is typically determined by a hydrogeologist or other well specialist. In the contexte of this document, refers to a groundwater that is considered less vulnerable to fecal contamination. Note: all groundwaters may be at some risk of contamination, particularly from enteric viruses.
Groundwater under the direct influence of surface water (GUDI)
Any water beneath the surface of the ground with (i) the presence of insects or other microorganisms, algae, organic debris, or large-diameter pathogens such as Giardia lamblia or Cryptosporidium, or (ii) significant fluctuations in water characteristics such as turbidity, temperature, conductivity or pH which may closely correlate to climatological or surface water conditions (Adapted from AWWA, 2000).
Large drinking water system
See "Drinking water system".
Legislated installation
Term applied to "port of entry" installations (i.e., the land itself, physical infrastructure, operations, and all supporting services) provided at no cost to Her Majesty by third party owners and/or operators, as required by law (e.g., Customs Act).
Maximum acceptable concentration
MACs are the health-based limits for drinking water contaminants established in the GCDWQ. They are designed to protect human health, while being measurable and achievable at a reasonable cost.
Micro-system
See "Drinking water system".
Monitoring program
A plan that identifies the parameters that should be routinely monitored, and related details (e.g., frequency). A monitoring program is developed using information provided by the vulnerabilities assessment, sanitary survey and baseline chemical analysis. See also "Sanitary survey", "Vulnerabilities assessment" and "Baseline chemical analysis".
Plumbing system
A plumbing system (plumbing) is a building's internal piping system, starting at the curb stop. It includes water supply pipes, fixtures and other devices; drainage and vent systems and connections within and adjacent to the building.
Quality management
The consistent and effective management and operation of all the components of the drinking water system, from source to tap. Verification tools and procedures, including monitoring, record-keeping, and evaluation processes such as third-party auditing, are required to achieve quality management.
Reservoir
An impounded body of water or controlled lake in which water can be collected and stored (AWWA, 2000).
Sanitary survey
An on-site review, from intake to tap, of a water utility's raw water quality, facilities, equipment, operations, and maintenance records for the purpose of evaluating the utility's ability to adequately treat source water in order to produce and deliver safe drinking water. Sanitary surveys vary depending on the type and complexity of the system. A sanitary survey, in combination with a vulnerabilities assessment and baseline chemical analysis, provides the information required to develop an appropriate monitoring program and treatment regime. See also "vulnerabilities assessment", "baseline chemical analysis" and "monitoring program".
Small drinking water system
See "Drinking water system".
Surface water
  1. Any water body on the land surface, including running water (e.g., streams, rivers) as well as lakes, reservoirs and ponds.
  2. Any water open to the atmosphere and subject to surface run-off.
Treated water reservoir
An enclosed storage facility or structure intended to hold finished (treated) water before it is distributed to consumers.
Unique facility/situation
Facilities or situations that require special attention in order to protect public health. Examples of unique facilities/situations include:
  • Canadian diplomatic missions overseas;
  • Remote locations within Canada;
  • Seasonal facilities;
  • Legislated installations;
  • Water systems used for one-time large group events;
  • Coast Guard and military vessels;
  • Special dedicated-use bottling plants (e.g., Canadian Forces overseas);
  • Large scale domestic humanitarian deployments; and
  • Emergencies.
Very small system
See "Drinking water system".
Vulnerabilities assessment
A comprehensive assessment of the vulnerability of the source water in the environment. It includes three elements:
  • Delineation of watersheds, aquifers and their protection areas;
  • Identification of hazards, including contaminants of concern and their sources (where possible to determine);
  • Assessment of susceptibility to contamination and ranking of the hazards.
See Chapter 3 for details. See also "Sanitary survey", "Baseline chemical analysis" and "Monitoring program".
Watershed
The area draining naturally from a system of watercourses and leading to one body of water.
Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: