Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Appendix 1: The water quality guidelines used in each jurisdiction

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

Table 1-A
The water quality guidelines used in Alberta
Parameter Form Guideline description1 Unit Source
Aluminum2 Dissolved 5 at pH <6.5; 100 at pH >6.5 g/L CCME, 2005b
Ammonia Un-ionized 0.019 mg/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Arsenic Total 5 g/L CCME, 2005b
Cadmium2 Total e^(1.0166*ln[hardness]-3.924) g/L USEPA, 2005
Chloride Dissolved 150 mg/L BCMOE, 2001; Environment Canada, 2005c
Copper2 Total 7 g/L Alberta Environment, 1999
Copper3 Total 2, for hardness 0-90 mg/L; e^(0.8545*ln[hardness)]-1.465)* 0.2, for hardness >90 mg/L g/L CCME, 2005b
Dissolved oxygen ... 6.5 mg/L Alberta Environment, 1999
Lead Total e^(1.273*ln[hardness]-4.705) g/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Mercury2 (Total) inorganic 0.026 g/L CCME, 2005b
Nickel Total e^(0.76[ln(hardness)]+1.06) g/L CCME, 2005b
Nitrogen Total 1 mg/L Alberta Environment, 1999
Pesticides 2,4-D 4 g/L CCME, 2005b
Pesticides MCPA 2.6 g/L CCME, 2005b
pH3 ... 6.5-9.0 n/a CCME, 2005b
Phosphorus Total 0.05 mg/L Alberta Environment, 1999
Selenium2 Total 2 g/L BCMOE, 2001; Environment Canada, 2005c
Zinc Total 7.5, for hardness ≤90 mg/L; 7.5 + 0.75*(hardness-90), for hardness >90 mg/L CaCO3 g/L BCMOE, 2001; Environment Canada, 2005c
1. SSG means that different site-specific guidelines or formulas were used at different sites (specific site information available on request).
2. Applies to sites monitored by provincial monitoring programs.
3. Applies to sites monitored under federal monitoring programs and the Prairie Provinces Water Board.


Table 1-B
The water quality guidelines used in British Columbia1
Parameter Form Guideline description2 Unit Source
Alkalinity ... 20 mg/L (CaCO3) Nagpal et al., 2006
Antimony Total 20 g/L Nagpal et al., 2006
Arsenic Total 5 g/L CCME, 2005b
Cadmium Total ≤10^0.86[log(hardness)]-3.2, when > 50mg/L CaCO3; ≤0.019, when <50 mg/L CaCO3, SSG g/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c; Environment Canada, 2005d
Cadmium Extractable SSG g/L CCME, 2005b; Butcher, 1992
Chloride Total or dissolved SSG mg/L Nagpal, 2003
Chromium Total SSG g/L Environment Canada, 2005c; Environment Canada, 2005e; Butcher, 1992; Environment Canada, 2005f; CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005g; Environment Canada, 2005h; Swain, 1990; EC, 2005i
Chromium Extractable SSG g/L BCMOE, 1992
Copper Total SSG g/L Environment Canada, 2005c; Singleton, 1987; BCMWLAP, 2004; Swain et al., 1997; Environment Canada, 2005i
Copper Extractable SSG g/L Butcher, 1992; Singleton, 1987
Copper Dissolved SSG g/L Swain, 1990
Cyanide Total SSG g/L CCME, 2005b; Swain, 1990
Cyanide Weak acid dissociable 5 g/L CCME, 2005b
Dissolved oxygen ... SSG mg/L Environment Canada, 2005c; Environment Canada, 2005j; CCME, 2005b; Gwanikar et al., 1998; Swain and Girard, 1987
Fluoride Total 0.30 mg/L Warrington, 1995
Iron Total 300 g/L CCME, 2005b
Lead Total or extractable SSG g/L Nagpal, 1987; Environment Canada 2005c
Manganese Total or dissolved SSG g/L Nagpal, 2001a; Swain, 1990; CCME 2005b
Molybdenum Total SSG g/L CCME, 2005b; Swain, 1990
Nickel Total SSG g/L Environment Canada; 2005c, Swain, 1990
Nitrate Total dissolved as N 2.93 mg/L CCME, 2005b
Nitrite Total as N 0.02 mg/L Nordin and Pommen, 1986
Nitrogen Total or total dissolved SSG mg/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Nitrate and nitrite Dissolved 2.93 mg/L CCME, 2005b
pH ... SSG n/a CCME, 2005b; Swain, 1990; Butcher, 1992; Gwanikar et al., 1998
Phosphorus Total or total dissolved SSG mg/L Environment Canada, 2005c; OMOE, 1994
Selenium Total or dissolved 2 g/L Nagpal, 2001b
Silver Total SSG g/L Environment Canada, 2005c
Sulphate Dissolved 50 mg/L Singleton, 2000
Temperature ... SSG C Fidler and Oliver, 2001; Environment Canada, 2005c; Gwanikar et al., 1998
Thallium Total or extractable 0.8 g/L CCME, 2005b
Zinc Total or extractable SSG g/L Nagpal, 1999; Environment Canada, 2005c; Swain, 1990; EC, 2005i; Butcher, 1992
1. British Columbia and Yukon parameter selections were site-specific.
2. SSG means that different site-specific guidelines or formulas were used at different sites (specific site information available on request).


Table 1-C
The water quality guidelines used in Manitoba
Parameter Form Guideline description1 Unit Source
Ammonia2 Total as nitrogen Calculation based on pH and temperature mg/L USEPA, 2005
Ammonia3 Un-ionized 0.019 mg/L CCME, 2005b
Arsenic2 Total or extractable 0.15 mg/L USEPA, 2005
Arsenic3 Total 5 g/L CCME, 2005b
Cadmium2 Total or extractable e^(0.7852*ln[hardness]-2.715) where hardness = mg/L as CaCO3 g/L USEPA, 2005
Chloride3 Dissolved 150 mg/L BCMOE, 2001; Environment Canada, 2005c
Copper2 Total or extractable e^(0.8545*ln[hardness]-1.702) where hardness = mg/L as CaCO3 g/L USEPA, 2005
Copper3 Total 2, for hardness 0-90 mg/L; e^(0.8545*ln[hardness]-1.465)* 0.2, for hardness >90 mg/L g/L CCME, 2005c; USEPA, 2005
Dissolved oxygen2 ... 5 mg/L USEPA, 2005
Dissolved oxygen3 ... 6.5 mg/L PPWB, 1992; Alberta Environment, 1999
Iron2 Total or extractable 0.3 g/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Lead Total (or extractable) e^(1.273*ln[hardness]-4.705) g/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Nickel3 Total e^(0.76*ln[hardness]+1.06) g/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Nickel2 Total or extractable e^(0.8460*ln[hardness]+0.0584), where hardness = mg/L CaCO3 g/L USEPA, 2005
Nitrate2 Total (as N) 2.9 mg/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Nitrogen3 Total 1 mg/L Alberta Environment, 1999
Pesticides MCPA 2.6 g/L CCME, 2005b
Pesticides 2,4-D 4 g/L CCME, 2005b
pH ... 6.5-9.0 n/a CCME, 2005b
Phosphorus Total 0.05 (rivers); 0.025 (lakes) mg/L PPWB, 1992; Alberta Environment, 1999; Manitoba Conservation, 2002
Total suspended solids2 ... 25 mg/L Manitoba Conservation, 2002
Zinc3 Total 7.5, for hardness ≤90 mg/L; 7.5 + 0.75*(hardness-90), for hardness >90 mg/L CaCO3 g/L BCMOE, 2001; Environment Canada, 2005c
Zinc2 Total or extractable e^(0.8473*ln[hardness]+0.884), where hardness = mg/L as CaCO3 g/L USEPA, 2005
1. SSG means that different site-specific guidelines or formulas were used at different sites (specific site information available on request).
2. Applies to sites monitored by provincial monitoring programs.
3. Applies to sites monitored under federal monitoring programs and the Prairie Provinces Water Board.


Table 1-D
The water quality guidelines used in New Brunswick
Parameter Form Guideline description1 Unit Source
Ammonia Un-ionized 0.019 mg/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Chloride Dissolved 150 mg/L BCMOE, 2001; Environment Canada, 2005c
Copper Total 2, for hardness <60 mg/L CaCO3; e^(0.8545*ln[hardness]-1.465)*0.2, for hardness >60 mg/L g/L BCMOE, 2001
Iron Dissolved 300 g/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Nickel Total e^(0.76*ln[hardness]+1.06) g/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Nitrate Total 2.9 mg/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Oxygen Dissolved 6.5 mg/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
pH ... 6.5-9.0 n/a CCME, 2005b
Phosphorus Total 0.03 (rivers); 0.02 (lakes) mg/L Dodds et al., 1998
Turbidity ... 10 (SSG) NTU Environment Canada, 2005c
Zinc Total 7.5 for hardness <90 mg/L; 7.5 + 0.75*(hardness-90) for hardness >90 mg/L g/L BCMOE, 2001; Environment Canada, 2005c
1. SSG means that different site-specific guidelines or formulas were used at different sites (specific site information available on request).


Table 1-E
The water quality guidelines used in Newfoundland and Labrador
Parameter Form Guideline description1 Unit Source
Arsenic2 Total 5 g/L CCME, 2005b
Chromium2 Total 1 g/L CCME, 2005b
Copper2 Total 2, for [CaCO3] = 0-120 mg/L
µg/L CCME, 2005b
3, for [CaCO3] = 120-180 mg/L
4, for [CaCO3] >180 mg/L
Iron2 Total 300 g/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Lead2 Total 1, for [CaCO3] = 0-60 mg/L µg/L CCME, 2005b
2, for [CaCO3] = 60-120 mg/L
4, for [CaCO3] = 120-180 mg/L
7, for [CaCO3] >180 mg/L
Molybdenum2 Total 73 g/L CCME, 2005b
Nickel2 Total 25, for [CaCO3] = 0-60 mg/L µg/L CCME, 2005b
65, for [CaCO3] = 60-120 mg/L
110, for [CaCO3] = 120-180 mg/L
150, for [CaCO3] = >180 mg/L
pH   6.5-9.0 n/a CCME, 2005b
Phosphorus Total 0.03 (rivers) mg/L Dodds et al., 1998
Selenium2 Total 1 g/L CCME, 2005b
Zinc2 Total 30 g/L CCME, 2005b
1. SSG means that different site-specific guidelines or formulas were used at different sites (specific site information available on request).
2. Sites in Labrador had either total or extractable metals used in calculation of the WQI due to modification in sampling program.


Table 1-F
The water quality guidelines used in Nova Scotia
Parameter Form Guideline description1 Unit Source
Chloride Dissolved 150 mg/L BCMOE, 2001; Environment Canada, 2005c
Copper Total 2, for hardness <60 mg/L CaCO3; e^(0.8545*ln[hardness]-1.465)*0.2, for hardness >60 mg/L g/L BCMOE, 2001; Environment Canada, 2005c
Iron Dissolved 300 g/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Lead Total e^(1.273*ln[hardness]-4.705) g/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Nickel Total e^(0.76*ln[hardness]+1.06) g/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Nitrate Total (as N) 2.9 mg/L CCME, 2005b
pH ... 6.5-9.0 n/a CCME, 2005b
Phosphorus Total 0.03 (rivers); 0.02 (lakes) mg/L Dodds et al., 1998
Zinc Total 7.5 for hardness <90 mg/L; 7.5 + 0.75*(hardness-90) for hardness >90 mg/L g/L BCMOE, 2001; Environment Canada, 2005c
1. SSG means that different site-specific guidelines or formulas were used at different sites (specific site information available on request).


Table 1-G
The water quality guidelines used in Northwest Territories and Nunavut
Parameter Form Guideline description1 Unit Source
Ammonia Dissolved SSG for lotic sites (mean + 2SD) and 0.019 for lentic-lotic sites mg/L CCME, 2005b
Arsenic Total SSG (mean + 2 SD) g/L DIAND
Chloride Dissolved SSG for lotic sites (mean + 2SD) and 150 for lentic-lotic sites mg/L CCME, 2005b
Chromium Total SSG (mean + 2 SD) g/L DIAND
Copper Total SSG for lotic sites (mean + 2SD) and for lentic-lotic sites: µg/L CCME, 2005b
2, for [CaCO3] = 0-120 mg/L
3, for [CaCO3] = 120-180 mg/L
4, for [CaCO3] >180 mg/L
Iron Total SSG for lotic sites (mean + 2SD) and 300 for lentic-lotic sites g/L CCME, 2005b
Lead Total SSG for lotic sites (mean + 2SD) and for lentic-lotic sites: µg/L CCME, 2005b
1, for [CaCO3] = 0-60 mg/L
2, for [CaCO3] = 60-120 mg/L
4, for [CaCO3] = 120-180 mg/L
7, for [CaCO3] >180 mg/L
Nitrite Dissolved SSG (mean + 2 SD) mg/L DIAND
Nitrite-nitrate Dissolved SSG for lotic sites (mean + 2SD) and 2.93 (lentic-lotic sites) mg/L CCME, 2005b
Oxygen Dissolved 5 mg/L CCME, 2005b
pH ... SSG for lotic sites (mean + 2SD) and 6.5-9.0 for lentic-lotic sites) pH units CCME, 2005b
Phosphorus Total SSG for lotic sites (mean + 2SD) and 0.03 (lentic-lotic sites) mg/L Dodds et al., 1998
Zinc Total SSG for lotic sites (mean + 2SD) and 30 for lentic-lotic sites g/L CCME, 2005b
1. SSG means that different site-specific guidelines or formulas were used at different sites (specific site information available on request).


Table 1-H
The water quality guidelines used in Ontario
Parameter Form Guideline description1 Unit Source
Ammonia Un-ionized 0.019 mg/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Chloride Dissolved 150 mg/L BCMOE, 2001; Environment Canada, 2005c
Chromium Total 2 g/L CCME, 2005b (guideline for Cr(VI) adjusted to total chromium)
Nickel Total e^(0.76*ln[hardness]+1.06) g/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Nitrate Total (as N) 2.93 mg/L CCME, 2005b
Phosphorus Total 0.03 mg/L OMOE, 1994
Zinc Total 7.5, for hardness <90 mg/L; 7.5 + 0.75*(hardness-90), for hardness >90 mg/L CaCO3 g/L BCMOE, 2001; Environment Canada, 2005c
1. SSG means that different site-specific guidelines or formulas were used at different sites (specific site information available on request).


Table 1-I
The water quality guidelines used in Prince Edward Island
Parameter Form Guideline description1 Unit Source
Ammonia Un-ionized 0.019 mg/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Nitrate Dissolved (as N) 2.93 mg/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
pH ... 6.5-9.0 n/a CCME, 2005b
Phosphorus Total 0.03 mg/L Dodds et al., 1998
Suspended sediments Total 29 (SSG) mg/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
1. SSG means that different site-specific guidelines or formulas were used at different sites (specific site information available on request).


Table 1-J
The water quality guidelines used in Quebec
Parameter Form Guideline description1 Unit Source
Ammonia Total (as N) 0.05, at pH 8.2 and 20C mg/L MDDEP, 2006
Chlorophyll a ... 8 mg/m3 OECD, 1982
Nitrite+nitrate Total (as N) 2.93 mg/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
pH ... >6.5; <9.0 n/a MDDEP, 2006
Phosphorus Total 0.03 mg/L MDDEP, 2006
Turbidity ... 10 NTU MDDEP, 2006
1. SSG means that different site-specific guidelines or formulas were used at different sites (specific site information available on request).


Table 1-K
The water quality guidelines used in Saskatchewan
Parameter Form Guideline description1 Unit Source
Ammonia Un-ionized 0.019 mg/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Arsenic Total 5 g/L CCME, 2005b
Chloride Dissolved 150 mg/L BCMOE, 2001; Environment Canada, 2005c
Copper Total 2, for hardness 0-90 mg/L; e^(0.8545*ln[hardness]-1.465)* 0.2, for hardness >90 mg/L g/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Oxygen Dissolved 6.5 mg/L PPWB, 1992; Alberta Environment, 1999
Lead Total e^(1.273*ln[hardness]-4.705) g/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Nickel Total e^(0.76*ln[hardness]+1.06) g/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Nitrogen Total 1 mg/L Alberta Environment, 1999
Pesticides MCPA 2.6 g/L CCME, 2005b
Pesticides 2,4-D 4 g/L CCME, 2005b
pH ... 6.5-9.0 n/a CCME, 2005b
Phosphorus Total 0.05 mg/L PPWB, 1992; Alberta Environment, 1999
Zinc Total 7.5, for hardness ≤90 mg/L; 7.5 + 0.75*(hardness-90), for hardness >90 mg/L CaCO3 g/L BCMOE, 2001; Environment Canada, 2005c
1. SSG means that different site-specific guidelines or formulas were used at different sites (specific site information available on request).


Table 1-L
The water quality guidelines used in Yukon1
Parameter Form Guideline description2 Unit Source
Arsenic Total 5 g/L CCME, 2005b
Cadmium Total 0.026 g/L BCMOE, 2001; CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Chromium Total SSG g/L BCMOE, 2001; Environment Canada, 2005c
Copper Total SSG g/L Singleton, 1987
Lead Total e(1.273[ln*(hardness)]-4.705) g/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Nitrate Total as N 2.93 mg/L CCME, 2005b; Environment Canada, 2005c
Nitrite Not available 0.02 mg/L Nordin and Pommen, 1986
pH ... SSG   CCME, 2005b
Phosphorus Total 0.03 mg/L Dodds et al., 1998
Silver Total SSG g/L Warrington, 1995; Environment Canada, 2005c
Sulphate Dissolved 50 mg/L  
Temperature ... SSG C Fidler and Oliver, 2001
Zinc Total SSG g/L BCMOE, 2001; Environment Canada, 2005c
1. British Columbia and Yukon parameter selections were site-specific.
2. SSG means that different site-specific guidelines or formulas were used at different sites (specific site information available on request).