Sault Ste. Marie PUC
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October Update: Water Quality Improvement Project
Posted: Nov 07, 2014

The PUC is pleased to report that the Water Quality Improvement Project (the Project) announced February 3rd, 2014 continues on schedule. The month of October saw the Project achieve yet another milestone – the receipt of the Ministry of the Environment Technical Approval Permit. This confirms the advanced treatment methods outlined in the Project meet provincial requirements and the Ministry has officially given the green light to move forward with construction and installation of the prescribed treatment methods.

As announced last month, Cecchetto and Sons Ltd. is the contractor responsible for the installation of the advanced treatment methods. The new treatment methods will correct the pH imbalances between all the different sources of water, and control the internal corrosion of watermains. These treatments will help improve the taste and odour of the city’s drinking water and reduce both the occurrence of discoloured water and the amount of lead that may be contained in the water at a consumer’s tap.

Construction is under way on the advanced treatment methods at the Water Treatment Plant (WTP), as well as all well sites across the city. The WTP is being prepared for the incorporation of soda ash (sodium carbonate) to the treatment process. Soda ash is being added to raise the pH level of the water produced at the WTP to match the pH level of the water produced at the Goulais and Steelton wells. At the east end wells, work will allow for the addition of carbon dioxide to lower the pH of the water, again to match the level of the Goulais and Steelton wells. Once complete, this process will harmonize pH levels across the city and will help resolve taste and odour concerns.

Cecchetto and Sons will also be installing a new treatment method that will provide improved corrosion control in the water distribution system. This will be achieved by adding a corrosion inhibitor (blended phosphates) to each water source. This corrosion inhibitor will help reduce occurrences of discoloured water as it protects all parts of the distribution system against internal corrosion. The corrosion inhibitor will also reduce the tendency of lead to leach from lead pipes, lead solder and brass fixtures in people’s homes; this will help reduce the amount of lead in the water at the customer’s tap.

Once the construction is completed (anticipated by year-end), and the new systems are fully operational and working as expected, PUC customers should experience noticeable improvements in the colour, taste and odour of their water.

As mentioned in previous updates, the Lorna Wells were removed from active service, on May 26, 2014. These wells were removed from service because they produced water with higher amounts of chloride, manganese and iron than the remaining four sources of water. This unique composition played a major role in creating discoloured water, taste and odour. With these wells now on standby and ultimately to be abandoned, the PUC and Kresin Engineering have commenced a study to identify and assess alternative approaches to replace the lost water capacity from the Lorna wells. In addition to addressing this lost capacity, the study is also being completed to address the production capacity required to meet estimated long term future demands.

As the first step toward obtaining provincial approval to develop new wells or add additional capacity at existing sites, the PUC is undergoing a Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (Class EA). A key requirement of the provincially mandated assessment is a public notification and consultation process. More information in this regard will be made available in the near future.

Customers looking for more information on the Project or the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment procedure 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. 

 

More Information On The Advanced Treatment Methods  

Soda ash, phosphates and carbon dioxide are commonly added to drinking water by water utilities around the world. While they impart no direct taste, odour or colour to drinking water, adding them at very low concentrations can help improve water quality at the tap. Carbon dioxide is used in carbonated beverages. 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. 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.

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