One thousand Sault Ste. Marie residents participated in an Ipsos Reid survey in May and made it clear that improvements must be made in the taste, odour and colour of the city’s drinking water.
The customer survey was commissioned by PUC Services Inc. and is designed to set a benchmark to measure improvements in water quality as a comprehensive Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) continues to be implemented.
The survey found that overall satisfaction with the quality of the city’s drinking water continues to be fairly low at 52% and has not changed since 2012. However, a majority of residents (62%) feel that the water as it is today is ‘acceptable’ to them, also unchanged from 2012. The lowest survey ratings for the city’s drinking water came from residents in Wards 1 and 2 who have experienced ongoing issues with discoloured water.
35% of respondents believe drinking water improvements should be the top priority in the city. 30% of those persons surveyed say they are drinking less tap water than a year ago, mainly because of taste and odour. This rating has improved slightly from 35% in 2012.
Dominic Parrella, President of PUC Services Inc., said the customer survey is a critical step in our commitment to improve the city’s water. “We are certainly not surprised at the survey results, but it was important to involve our customers in setting the benchmark from which to measure progress on our new water quality improvement project.”
The project will see the Lorna Wells eventually capped and permanently abandoned once production capacity is increased at the Water Treatment Plant and the various wells in the city. In addition advanced treatment methods will be implemented which will result in consistent pH levels from all of the city’s water sources and less internal corrosion of the city’s water lines.
The PUC President said the company’s goal in the next customer survey is to achieve significant improvement in customer satisfaction levels based on improvements to the city’s drinking water.
The customer telephone survey involved a random and representative sample of residential PUC customers in all six wards in Sault Ste. Marie. 190 residents were surveyed in Ward 1, 160 in Ward 2, 180 in Ward 3, 160 in Ward 4, 150 residents in Ward 5 and 160 residents in Ward 6. The cost of the survey was approximately $30,000 and is part of the Water Quality Improvement Project budget.
The previous survey of PUC customers was conducted in November of 2012. Details of the 2014 and 2012 customer surveys are available on the PUC’s website at: www.ssmpuc.com