PUC Water Quality Improvement Project Update


SAULT STE. MARIE, ON (6 March 2015) – The PUC would like to advise the public that the staged implementation of the new blended phosphate and carbon dioxide treatment systems have been completed for all active water production sites across the city. Implementation of the final advanced treatment method, Sodium Carbonate (soda ash) is well in progress and will be completed by mid-March.

Soda ash is being introduced at the Water Treatment Plant to raise the pH level of the water produced there to match the pH level of the water produced at the Goulais and Steelton Wells. Soda ash is being used in conjunction with carbon dioxide (introduced at the Shannon Well) to harmonize pH levels across the city. The harmonization of pH levels will help improve the taste and odour of water citywide.

When used in combination, all of the newly installed advanced treatment methods (soda ash, carbon dioxide and blended phosphates) are expected to reduce lead levels at the customers tap, in accordance with provincial regulations. In addition, they also 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.

After implementation and commissioning of the soda ash system is completed, Stage 1 of the Water Quality Improvement Project will be officially complete. Once Stage 1 is complete, the advanced treatment methods will undergo a long-term period of adjustment and fine-tuning. As the distribution system is acclimating to the new treatment processes, the PUC will be closely monitoring the system’s response to the new methods, and responding to water quality and customer feedback.  This period of system optimization will last most of 2015, concluding with a second Ipsos Reid Customer Satisfaction Survey near the end of the year.

The purpose of this survey is to measure the improvement in water quality since the introduction of the advanced treatment methods. The results of this survey will be compared to the baseline established by the previous survey conducted in May 2014, (the results of which can be found here) to determine the effectiveness of Stage 1 of the Water Quality Improvement Project. The second survey results in conjunction with all other available information will be used to help determine whether it will be necessary to move ahead with Stage 2 of the Water Quality Improvement Strategy.

Customers looking for more information on the Water Quality Improvement Project or the advanced treatment methods are encouraged to visit the PUC website; www.ssmpuc.com 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.


Improving 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.