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Raw Water Sources

In General

The sources of drinking water (both tap and bottled) include rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs and wells. As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals and, in some cases, radioactive materials, and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animal or human activities. Contaminants that may be present in source water include: microbial contaminants; inorganic contaminants; pesticides and herbicides; organic chemical contaminants; and radioactive contaminants. In order to ensure that tap water is safe to drink, the State and EPA prescribe regulations which limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems.

The State Health Department and FDA’s regulations establish limits for contaminants in bottled water, which must provide the same protection for public health.

The source of all Buffalo’s water is Lake Erie.

Our water source is Lake Erie (a surface water source) which is the southernmost of the Great Lakes, bounded on the north by the Canadian province of Ontario, on the south by the U.S. states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, and on the west by the state of Michigan. During 2008, our system did not experience any restriction of our water source.

Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes, with an average depth of only 62-ft. It also has the shortest detention time of the Great Lakes. Water remains in the lake for only 2.6 years before it is replaced by fresh water (as compared with 191 years in Lake Superior or 22.6 years in Lake Huron). It is also the siltiest of the Great Lakes. Its bottom consists of fine sand, easily upset during turbulent storms. The combination of its shallowness, short detention time and sandy unstable bottom bestows a great asset upon this body of water. The lake is able to quickly flush itself of harmful contaminants such as pesticides and other organic wastes. When Lake Erie becomes turbulent, fine particles of sand and silt become agitated and suspended throughout the lake. Organic contaminants will tightly cling to these particles and will be quickly flushed from the lake. Therefore water treatment begins as a natural process due to the structure and makeup of Lake Erie.

Lake Erie

Lake Erie Facts and Figures

Lake Erie is the 11th largest world lake - (4th largest Great Lake by surface area)
Length: 241 miles; Width: 57miles; Avg. Depth: 62’; Max Depth: 210’
Vol.: 116 miles3; Elevation: 569’; Shoreline: 871miles; Surface area: 9,910 miles2
Drainage Basin Area: 30,140 miles2; Outlet: Niagara River & Welland Canal