Saint John Water

Questions and Answers

What is the current water quality for East Side customers?


The water quality provided to customers east of the Saint John River has been relatively unchanged for many decades.  Water from Latimer Lake is screened, chlorinated, and flows directly to the distribution system.

What measures have been taken to prepare for the future treated water?


Significant efforts have been made over the past 12 years to clean and line the unlined cast iron watermains in the distribution system. There have been approximately 50km cleaned and lined which equates to approximately 33% of the entire cast iron water distribution inventory of the City of Saint John. The work that has been completed over the past 12 years will be of significant benefit in reducing possible issues with water quality however there still remains approximately 100km of distribution main that still has to be cleaned and lined.  The cleaning and lining program is ongoing.

How will my water quality change once it comes from the new treatment facility?


The changes in water quality from the current water to the future drinking water produced at the Loch Lomond Drinking Water Treatment Facility include pH, chlorine residual, organic matter content, and mineral balance. The new surface water treatment plant will increase treated water pH, reduce organic matter concentrations, alter the balance of alkalinity and hardness, have a chlorine residual that persists in the distribution system, and include corrosion inhibitor (orthophosphate) treatment.

What is sodium hydroxide and why is it being used to treat the East Side water supply?


Sodium hydroxide is a chemical that is commonly used in the treatment of drinking water to neutralize acidity, increase alkalinity, or raise the pH value.  It is being used to increase the pH for the east water supply.  The objective is to slowly adjust the existing infrastructure to the new water chemistry.  

When will treatment with sodium hydroxide commence?


Treatment of the East Side Drinking Water with sodium hydroxide is scheduled to commence by mid to late April.

Is sodium hydroxide safe?


It is a food grade product that is safe to consume as part of the treated water and will not impact the smell or taste of East Side water.  The product is NSF/ANSI Standard 60 Certified.

Will the addition of sodium hydroxide in my drinking water have an adverse effect on my personal filter I have installed?


No. However, for all privately-purchased water filtration systems, it is recommended to always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Will I notice a change in my water?


There is potential for changes in chlorine levels, increased iron, and discoloration. Saint John Water will be increasing its flushing, water sampling and monitoring. Any discoloration or increased iron would be temporary in nature.

What if I experience discolored water? What is the cause and what should I do?


Raising the pH of the water could destabilize the tuberculation, causing discoloration. Tuberculation is essentially the buildup of corrosion inside cast-iron pipes.  A disturbance in the water can cause this build up to loosen.

Should there be any instances of discolored water, customers are asked to notify Saint John Water and flush the water through their bath tub (given there is no aerator on it) until the water runs clear.

What about my pipes?  Will this change affect my plumbing?


Adjusting the pH value of the water aims to reduce pipe corrosion and should have no adverse effects on copper piping.  Introducing changes slowly allows a period of adjustment and orthophosphate, which the water will also be treated with, will further assist with corrosion and tuberculation stabilization control.

Although unlikely, what if I experience a leak in my pipes? What should I do?


When any resident experiences a leak in their pipes, we recommend the following steps:
1.  Try to isolate the leak by turning the shut-off to your plumbing system which is typically located just inside the foundation wall where the water enters your property.
2.  Once the valve is shut-off, run the water to see if your plumbing has been isolated. It may take a little while to drain the system. After a minute or two, there should be no water coming out of the tap.
3.  If there is water still coming out, call 658-4455 and administrative staff will enter a work order and dispatch the Customer Service crew to shut-off the valve outside on the property line so that the leak stops.
4.  Once the leak is repaired, advise Saint John Water and the water service will be turned back on.

What is orthophosphate?


Orthophosphate is commonly used in water treatment for corrosion and scale stabilization control.  Its use is well established and applied to surface drinking water sources.  Orthophosphate is a food grade product which contains phosphates that are a part of our everyday diet.