Saint John Water

Questions and Answers

Q. When and why was the west side water switched from lake water to well water?

A. In September 2017, Saint John Water switched the west side drinking water system from lake water from Spruce Lake to ground water drawn from the South Bay Wellfield. This switch was part of the City of Saint John Safe, Clean Drinking Water Project to ensure the sustainable and reliable supply of safe drinking water to all Saint John Water customers.

Previous to this transition, the water from Spruce Lake posed a risk to public health as the City was unable to assure its safety at all times. The lake water did not meet Health Canada’s Water Quality Guidelines or the Provincial Department of Health drinking water requirements. Saint John Water must meet specific water quality requirements. Furthermore, the surface water at Spruce Lake was susceptible to viruses and protozoa contamination, which Saint John Water was not able to treat effectively before the transition to well water.

Q. Is the water safe for drinking?

A. Yes, the water provided to west Saint John homes is safe to drink. From a health perspective, it is the best water the west side of the City has ever had. Saint John Water samples the water for quality on a regular, ongoing basis from locations all across the City, including numerous areas on the west
side. This sampling assures that the water remains safe at all times. Since the transition from lake water to well water in September 2017, Saint John Water has increased the number of samples it takes of the well water to provide ongoing confidence that it meets or exceeds Drinking Water Guidelines.

Q. How were residents notified of the transition from surface water to well water?

A. Saint John Water places great value on keeping customers informed and maintaining a line of communication with customers at all times. Our communication is ongoing and will continue.
In terms of the City’s Safe, Clean Drinking Water Project, we have made it a priority to provide the public with regular updates on the success of the project and key decisions. Efforts are made to reach customers directly through open houses, regular updates to Common Council, direct mail, website and social media messages, and media interview and reports. These notifications will
continue.
In terms of the transition from very soft surface (lake) water to hard well water, it has been explained through council reports, on the City’s website and through media reports that the well water would be harder than the water from Spruce Lake. There is a good description of the difference between
hard and soft water on the City’s website as well as tips on how to deal with hard water.
In terms of leaking or burst pipes, this can occur for a number of reasons that are unrelated to hard water itself, and during any time of the year. It was not anticipated that the change in water from soft to hard would cause any issues to internal piping. Saint John Water has heard concerns from customers about leaking pipes and is investigating any potential cause the change in water chemistry may have on this phenomenon. Customers who have experienced leaking pipes can contact Saint John Water to advise us of the issue by calling Customer Service at 658-4455. The best time to call is between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. Emails can also be sent to
waterandsewerage@saintjohn.ca

Q. Does Saint John Water fix plumbing on private property or pay bills related to such work?

A. Saint John Water is responsible to investigate and repair any leaks on or issues on the public water main up to the point where it meets the residential or commercial property line. Anything on private property is considered to be under the ownership and responsibility of the property owner. Currently there are no plans to provide discounts for work on private property.

Q. Will the city pay for a water softener?

A. There are no plans on discounts available through the City for personal water softeners. Some households may choose to have one installed and this can be done locally. The cost of installing a water softener varies depending on the preferred method, from self-purchase and arrangement of installation, to contracted installations and rental or lease agreements. This provides a range of cost options from $23/month to a purchase at approximately $499 to a supply and install by a contractor for $2,000.

Q. Will the City of Saint John be installing a water softener at the source?

A. There are currently no plans to install a water softener at the South Bay Wellfield as the water is of good quality and meets the Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines as well as the New Brunswick drinking water guidelines. Saint John Water has developed an information guide to assist with tips on dealing with hard water. Please see attached.

Q. Is the water pressure higher in the distribution system now that we are on well water?

A. Saint John Water monitors water pressure throughout the distribution system on a regular, ongoing basis. It is common to have small fluctuations in the system due to the varying levels of water in the three water storage tanks that serve west side customers. The water pressure has not increased since the transition to the new water from the South Bay Wellfield. System disruptions can occur across the City, which could increase or decrease water pressure. These instances only occur for a short period of time. If you feel as though there is a change to your water pressure, please contact Saint John Water at 658-4455 so that it can be investigated.

Q. What is the new water chemistry (pH)?

A. There are many parameters involved with water chemistry, and not all waters are created equal. With the transition from lake water to well water, the pH in the City’s west side water supply has risen from 6.2 (Spruce Lake water level) to 7.9 (South Bay Wellfield water level). This is good news – the water is less acidic. Hardness, which is the concentration of magnesium and calcium
in the water, fluctuates at an average of approximately 200mg/L. Hardness is not a constant number as the water quality changes depending upon how the ground water moves through the underground aquifer because as it is moving through it is picking up minerals. It is normal to see variations
in hardness.

Q. Will the addition of orthophosphate increase the sodium in my drinking water?

A. The orthophosphate the City of Saint John will be using does not have sodium as a listed ingredient.