Saturday, May 26, 2018

CITY OF WATERLOO WATER SUPPLY PROBLEMATIC



Part of the problem is the lack of information provided. When one has found discrepancies in the past with information provided by the Region who are in charge of water supply and treatment, one tends to be very skeptical of data gaps or just plain lack of clarity. That is the case with the three water systems supplying Waterloo residents with their water. First off Well W10 is located on the west side of the city in a non-industrial, almost rural area. It appears to have been shut down for years with the usual zero explanation as to why. We are simply advised this year, the same as last, that the system has been offline for the entire year. What pretty much seals the deal is the sample dates for the various organic (carbon based) and inorganic chemicals tested. All these dates are from 2005, thirteen years ago. Zero more recent sampling data.

The Erb St. Well System consists of four wells W6A, W6B, W7 and W8 all pumping into the Erb St. reservoir. W8 was offline for 5 weeks, W6B was offline for 4 weeks and well W6A was offline for the entire year. The previous year Well W6B was offline for 13 weeks and well W6A offline for the whole year again. While there was also zero explanation in 2016 as well, there are clues. The disinfection system had numerous adverse results with both too short of a Contact Time of the chlorine with the water as well as too low of a concentration of chlorine in the treated water. Hence disinfection had to be restored on numerous occasions. Clearly there are either bacteria problems in the source water or there is an ongoing problem with the treatment system. i would expect engineering problems could be more readily remedied than contaminated source water in the wells.

Now we come to the William St. Well System. There are four wells namely W1B, W1C, W2 and W3. Well W3 was offline for the entire 2017 year. No explanation given. It wasn't offline however the preceding year. Strange. Also odd are the chloramine readings listed as exceeding half the Ontario Drinking Water Standards (ODWS). The ODWS for chloramine is 3 mg/litre. These readings are between 1.51 and 1.82 mg/litre. These 1/2 exceedances fill an entire page, there are so many. Chloramines are the chlorine residual that stays in the treated water to kill any coliform or E.Coli bacteria. Why they are so routinely high (albeit below the maximum criteria) likely is due to bacteria levels coming from somewhere.

The other long term problem with the William St. wells are trichloroethylene (TCE) concentrations. Again they are below the ODWS of 5 parts per billion (ppb) but they should not be present in drinking water at any measurable concentrations. They are routinely in Waterloo residents tap water at up to 1.5 ppb. Last year there were higher results and likely they have been significantly higher over the previous years.This has been ongoing for many decades and shame on both the Region and City for tolerating it. I seriously doubt that there are any human studies which can definitively determine that decades long, low dose TCE exposure isn't harmful to human beings.

3 comments:

  1. After reading these blogs all week and the final one today I have one question. Does anything make you happy in terms of lack of data or readings that are acceptable but still you are not satisfied? I see criticisms but no solutions or recommendations posted by you. Again I say focus on the glass half full rather then half empty and this is just my humble opinion.

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  2. While I understand financial constraints within government I can not abide dishonesty or deception of the public by those paid and entrusted to be public servants. In other words speak the truth even when it's not good news.

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  3. And I think you would have a different opinion or even attitude had you worked for government like yours truly. Freedom to express your opinion exists for you now but I doubt it would have if any level of Government had been your employer. This I speak from 35+ years of experience. You mean well but that is as far as it may go in today's political and financial world.

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