The Latest on Water Quality Improvement

PUC Building

Resolving the City’s water quality issues has involved incorporating two additional water treatment methods into the existing process; pH level harmonization (with the addition of carbon dioxide and sodium carbonate), and blended phosphates for corrosion control. These treatment methods are being introduced to resolve taste and odour concerns, as well as to reduce both the occurrence of discoloured water and the amount of lead that may be contained in the water at a consumer’s tap.

Carbon dioxide is used in carbonated beverages. Sodium Carbonate (soda ash) is very similar to everyday baking soda and is a common food additive, used in many foods such as chocolate milk, baked goods, beer and wine. Blended Phosphates are another class of food additives that are also added to many familiar foods, including cereals, coffee and tea, flour, coconut milk and many more.

The PUC would like to advise the public that the staged implementation of the advanced treatment methods as described in December’s Water Quality Improvement Project Update will begin January 26, 2015. The implementation process for all sites will run through to the end of February.

Blended phosphates (a corrosion inhibitor) will be added at all production sites (Wells and Water Treatment Plant). Also, carbon dioxide will be used to lower the pH levels at the Shannon Well to match the levels of the Goulais and Steelton Wells. Blended phosphates and carbon dioxide are commonly added to drinking water by utilities around the world.

Used in combination, blended phosphates and carbon dioxide are expected to reduce lead levels at the customers tap, in accordance with provincial regulations. The new treatment methods have the added benefit of helping to reduce the occurrences of discoloured water while protecting all parts of the distribution system and customers’ plumbing against internal corrosion.

Following commissioning of the advanced treatment methods and the introduction of blended phosphates, it is possible that some customers may initially notice cloudy water. This is temporary and is a result of watermains and home plumbing systems adjusting to the new water treatment processes. Up until the recent shutdown of the Lorna Wells, the distribution system has had water with higher concentrations of naturally occurring minerals such as calcium, manganese and chlorides flowing through it. Over the years, these minerals have built up inside of the distribution pipes. The UDF program has assisted in reducing this buildup, however it may still be present to varying degrees in areas of the distribution system and in customer’s plumbing. It should be noted that, this temporary cloudiness is more likely to appear when water has not been used for an extended period.

In the event a customer experiences cloudy water, they are advised to flush their cold-water taps for several minutes, and to contact PUC Customer Service if the issue persists. PUC will be monitoring and responding to water quality and customer feedback throughout the implementation process.

Customers looking for more information on the Water Quality Improvement Project or the advanced treatment methods are encouraged to visit the PUC website; or call Customer Service at 705-759-6522 Monday through Friday (9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.).

The PUC is committed to keeping its customers informed on the progress of this important Project with these regular monthly updates.