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Geese swimming


Environment and Nature

Wells and Septics

In rural areas drinking water is usually supplied by a well and waste water is treated and disposed of in a septic system.  Aquifers (areas underground where water is found) are widely distributed and generally will supply enough water for household and/or farm needs.  Groundwater quality is generally good although treatment is sometimes necessary to reduce hardness and remove iron.  Many household installations include treatment systems to remove bacteria which may be present.  If a new resident is buying existing property they should have the well and septic system tested/inspected. 

For more information, please see the Plumbing and Inspection Department page of the Northumberland County website.

Municipal Drinking Water and Waste Water

In urban areas drinking water is usually treated and supplied by a municipal water treatment plant and waste water is treated and disposed of by a municipal waste-water treatment plant. The source of water for municipal drinking water systems in Northumberland County is groundwater, local rivers or Lake Ontario. Treated waste water is discharged into Lake Ontario or local rivers. Many municipal programs and policies are in place to ensure residents have a safe plentiful source of drinking water, and waste water is appropriately treated.

Water Conservation

Local residents are fortunate to have access to clean and plentiful water. However, water should not be taken for granted. Make it a daily exercise to reduce the amount of water you use, including:

  • In your home - run the washing machine or dishwasher when you have full loads
  • In your yard - install a rain barrel to capture rainwater for use in your gardens
  • In the future - consider installing a grey water system to help recycle your water.

Recycling/Garbage/Hazardous Waste/Compost

Northumberland County manages the disposal of waste. Learn more about how to property recycle and dispose of wet waste. The County also runs a household hazardous waste collection program. Items such as batteries, motor oil and paint can be property disposed of in this program. Consider building or purchasing a compost bin. Turn your food waste into organic garden soil/fertilizer.

Living and Playing Around Water

Does your property have a wetland, river or lake on it? Do you live close to a body of water? If so, a permit may be required to construct a home, shed, driveway or deck, or to alter a stream pond or wetland. Permission is required so that your property is protected from floods or erosion and the environment is protected from your activities. Contact your local municipal building department or conservation authority to learn more.

When enjoying nature in or around water remember that after a heavy rainstorm or in the spring when snow is melting, local rivers and small streams flow quickly - please keep away. Also, rivers, streams and lakes may not freeze solid in the winter. Please check ice thickness before walking or driving on ice, or just stay away.

Stay Safe in Wild Weather

Local conservation authorities maintain a flood forecasting and warning system. The purpose of the system is to reduce risk to life and damage to property by providing local agencies and the public with advanced notice, information and advice so that they can respond to potential flooding and flood emergencies.There are four types of flood messages: flood safety bulletin, flood advisory, flood warning and Lake Ontario shoreline hazard warning.

Environment Canada warns residents of severe weather. There are 22 types of weather events that can trigger an alert. An alert is a transmitted signal that is used to heighten awareness and/or initiate preparation for action. Alerts are issued by Environment Canada's Meteorological Service (MSC) for weather or environmental hazard events that are either occurring, imminent, or forecast to develop. Alerts are currently issued as special weather statements, advisories, watches and warnings.


There are thousands of types of plants you will encounter in Ontario. It is important to know that although some plants are edible, many are not, and will make you sick. Know how to identify edible wild plants before you decide to eat them.

Some plants will also cause harm to your skin. Poison ivy is a shrubby plant or climbing woody vine that's well known for its ability to cause an itchy rash. Poison ivy is a common plant found throughout Northumberland County. The leaves of poison ivy have three pointed leaflets and are often glossy.  The plant also develops white berries that can last through the winter.  An easy phrase to remember is "Leaflets three - Let it be!"

Other plants that can pose a health risk or discomfort include Giant Hogweed, Wild Parsnip and Nettles. Consider attending workshops and learning more about these potentially harmful plants. It is important to understand, however, that many of these plants do benefit wildlife, and are used as a food source.


You will probably encounter numerous species of wildlife in Ontario ranging from insects, reptiles, amphibians, fish, mammals and birds. Consider attending workshops to learn more about these animals. However, there are a few things to consider when dealing with wildlife.

Wildlife can become a nuisance when they are no longer scared of humans. Always remember to cover your garbage to avoid unintentional feeding of wildlife.

Ensure that your home is well sealed from wildlife. Squirrels, racoons and mice can do damage to your home if they live in places like attics.

Domestic pets such as cats can kill wildlife such as song birds. If your pets do go outside, put a bell on your pet so wildlife knows they are around.

Ontario has numerous snakes and spiders, but only a few are poisonous. The Eastern Mississauga Rattlesnake is Ontario's only venomous snake.  These snakes are found around Georgian Bay. The female Black Widow spider is poisonous, and five species are found in Ontario.

Religious Offerings

While religious offerings are not the largest source of water pollution, anything not found naturally in the river can harm water quality and the homes of wildlife. When flowers, leaves, lemons, coconuts and other plant materials are put into the water, they immediately begin to break down and use up oxygen. Some plants and animals are very sensitive to the amount of oxygen in the water and cannot survive when oxygen is depleted.Coconuts, lemons and other fruits may cause health and disease problems if eaten by wildlife. This is because these fruits do not grow in Canada and are not the typical food that wildlife in this country would eat. Clothing, jewellery, money, plastic bags, containers andwrappers may cause harm if wildlife get caught in them or eat them.

What can you do?

  • Flowers and leaves may be placed in local rivers, however only a small handful should be released at one time. Extra flowers can be composted.
  • Fruits such as coconuts may be eaten, composted or buried with the permission of the landowner.
  • Offerings such as clothing, jewellery or money should not be placed in or near rivers. These offerings may be donated to local places of worship or community groups.
  • Plastic bags or wrappers must be recycled or placed in the garbage.

Protecting the Environment

There are many actions you can take to protect our local environment. Learn more from organizations such as your local conservation authorities. Consider the following actions you can take:

  • Plant native trees, shrubs and plants on your property
  • Conserve water and energy
  • Learn about local threats to our environment such as invasive species
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle materials
  • Consider your purchases
  • Buy local
  • Volunteer and get involved with a local environmental organization.


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