Sault Ste. Marie PUC
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August Update: Water Quality Improvement Project
Posted: Sep 02, 2014

The PUC is pleased to report that the Water Quality Improvement Project announced February 3rd, 2014 continues on schedule. The month of August saw the Project surpass two important milestones. The first was the release of a call for tenders for the installation of the advanced treatment methods. The second milestone was the establishment of a qualitative benchmark of customer satisfaction with municipal drinking water, the Ipsos Reid public opinion poll. This benchmark will be vital when it comes time to evaluate customer satisfaction after Stage 1 of the Water Quality Improvement Project is complete.

Perhaps the more noteworthy event in August was the call-for-tenders for the installation of the advanced treatment methods outlined in Stage 1 of the Project. The tender process marks the final stage of the planning process, with construction slated to begin soon after contract award. More information will be provided in the next status report. Subsequent to MOE approval, that contractor will be responsible for the construction and installation of the advanced treatment methods to Sault Ste. Marie’s water treatment system. Once completed (by this year-end), PUC customers should experience major improvements in the colour, taste and odour of their water.

The second notable event that occurred in early August was the presentation of the Ipsos Reid survey results made by Ipsos Reid Associate Vice President Michael Howell and PUC President and CEO Dominic Parrella to City Council on August 11th. “While we are certainly not surprised at the survey results, we felt it was critically important to involve our customers in setting the benchmark for satisfaction from which to measure progress on our new water quality improvement project.”, said Parrella. A second survey will be conducted, probably in late 2015, once the new treatment processes are stabilized and properly functioning.

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. The complete survey results along with the presentation made to Council can be found on the PUC website home page under “Latest News”.

Customers looking for more information on the Project 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. 


What are the “Advanced Treatment Methods”?

The advanced treatment methods being implemented involve incorporating soda ash (sodium carbonate) and carbon dioxide into the treatment process to adjust and harmonize pH levels across the entire system. 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. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is used in carbonated beverages.

Additionally a corrosion inhibitor, blended phosphates, will be added in order to reduce the amount of lead in the water at the customer’s tap. 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.

Soda ash, phosphates and carbon dioxide are commonly added to drinking water by water utilities throughout North America and Europe. While they impart no direct taste, odour or colour to drinking water, adding them at very low concentrations can help improve all of these things – and help reduce lead at the tap.

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