Saint John Water

Questions and Answers

Questions & Answers
August 31, 2018

Saint John Water and Port City Water Services are pleased to be delivering safe, clean drinking water to customers. Be assured that the City’s drinking water supplies now meet or exceed drinking water quality guidelines.

After two years of continuous construction, and over 22 km of upgrades to date to the City’s water transmission and distribution mains, the new Loch Lomond Drinking Water Treatment Facility began delivering Safe, Clean Drinking Water to all Saint John Water customers east of the Reversing Falls Bridge on August 31, 2018. The delivery of newly treated water marks another significant milestone of the City’s $216.8-million Safe, Clean Drinking Water Project.

Customers should note that while the new Loch Lomond Drinking Water Treatment Facility has begun to provide excellent quality water, it will take a number of days for the new water to make its way through the water distribution system to all customers.

What is the difference between the drinking water from the new treatment facility and the drinking water customers received historically?

Water quality from the new Loch Lomond Drinking Water Treatment Facility is significantly improved compared to the water quality from the former Latimer Lake Chlorination Facility. Historically, water from Loch Lomond, Robertson and Latimer Lakes was screened, chlorinated, and flowed directly to the distribution system to customers. The Lakes will still be the source of the drinking water; however, treatment of the water now involves several additional steps as identified in the following diagrams. 

Click here for Historic Treatment Process at Latimer Lake Chlorination Facility

Click here for Treatment Process at New Loch Lomond Drinking Water Treatment Facility 

How much water will be treated and stored at the Loch Lomond Drinking Water Treatment Facility?

The facility will have the capacity to produce 75 million litres of safe, clean drinking water per day. The three new storage reservoirs will have a capacity to hold 33 million litres.

Click here for photograph

What changes will I notice in my drinking water?

As a result of the new drinking water treatment process, customers will notice an improvement in the taste, colour and overall quality of the drinking water. Changes to the water from the new treatment at the Facility include an increase in the water’s pH level (i.e., it will be less acidic), an improvement in colour (water will be much clearer), a decrease in turbidity (water will be less cloudy), a decrease in chlorine and a reduced amount of organic matter, iron, and manganese and a slight increase in total dissolved solids and alkalinity. 

For more details, see the link Water Quality Parameters During Transition Phases

What if I notice discoloration in my water?

Short-term discoloured water is most likely the result of older pipes in the distribution system, or within private plumbing systems, as the water chemistry changes. If this is the case, it may not be noticed for several weeks or months after the new facility goes online.  

The risk of this happening is minimized by the following factors and actions taken by Saint John Water:

The source water (Loch Lomond Lake supply) remains the same.
Interim and permanent treatment steps that include an adjustment to the pH and the introduction of orthophosphate.
Orthophosphate is commonly used in water treatment for corrosion control and scale stabilization of any old scale/deposits in the piping. It is also a food-grade product that contains phosphates that are part of our everyday diet. 
Unidirectional flushing (cleaning) of the distribution system.

If you notice discoloured water, flush it through your bathtub faucet (as it does not have a screen/aerator on it) until the water runs clear and call Saint John Water at 658-4455.

Why does the water in my bathtub look blue?

Water from both the Loch Lomond Drinking Water Treatment Facility and the South Bay Wellfield is now essentially colourless.

Customers may notice that the water appears to have a bluish/greenish tint when filled in a bathtub. This is typically due to the lighting in a bathroom. When light shines on water, it can absorb some colours and reflect others. The deeper the water, the more apparent the (blue) colour.

If you take a glass of water out of the bathtub and bring it to a different room, you will notice that it is clear. 

What impact will the new water have on my plumbing?

Delivery of the newly-treated water should have no adverse effects on household plumbing.

In early May 2018, Saint John Water began a two-part system transition phase by treating water with sodium hydroxide to slowly adjust the water’s pH. This initial phase included a nine-week gradual increase in the pH to 7. This was followed by temporary orthophosphate treatment, which began in late June, 2018. This transition phase slowly allowed for a period of adjustment to assist with system corrosion and tuberculation (old scale/deposit) stabilization control. The new Loch Lomond Drinking Water Treatment Facility will permanently balance the pH and add orthophosphate to the water supply. 

Will my water pressure change?

Saint John Water monitors water pressure throughout the distribution system on a regular, ongoing basis. Water pressure may vary as water is now being moved to the newly constructed water storage tanks. It is common to have small fluctuations in pressure due to the varying levels of water in the storage reservoirs during normal operations. However, the water pressure from the water storage tanks will remain in the range that you have been accustomed to. 

System disruptions across the City during ongoing improvements and maintenance of the water infrastructure may also result in an increase or decrease to the water pressure. These instances only occur for a short period of time and will correct once the system disruption has been addressed. 

If you notice an increase in water pressure and you own a pressure reducing valve, it is important to regularly maintain the valve to ensure that it functions properly. Valves are typically located after the main water shut-off, or near where the water service enters your building.

Customers expected to experience pressure changes will be notified by Saint John Water with a hand-delivered notice. 

The following letters have been delivered to date:

August 13, 2018

If you feel there is a change to your water pressure and you have not otherwise been notified as of yet please contact Saint John Water at 658-4455 so that it can be investigated.

What has been done to the unlined cast iron water mains that are part of the distribution system?

Saint John Water’s cleaning and lining program is ongoing. Significant efforts have been made over the past 12 years to clean and line the unlined cast iron water mains in the distribution system. There have been approximately 50 km of pipe that has been 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. There still remains approximately 100 km of distribution mains that still have to be cleaned and lined. The annual program to clean and line approximately 5 km of watermain per year continues.

How will my water bill be impacted by the opening of the new treatment facility?

Saint John Water remains keenly focused on optimizing operations while delivering high quality, reliable drinking water and protecting the environment through the proper treatment of wastewater.

The plan is for water rates to stabilize after 2019 when the new Drinking Water Treatment Facility is fully operational. 

Inflationary type adjustments will account for annual water rate adjustments going forward rather than the larger annual rate increases of late.

Will there still be construction related to the Safe, Clean Drinking Water Project?

Some work will continue on the project in order to complete construction around the site, and on infrastructure upgrades to the distribution system.

Who will operate and maintain the new Loch Lomond Drinking Water Treatment Facility?

The facility will be operated and maintained by Port City Water Services for the next 30 years. Highly trained and certified staff will be responsible to ensure that only quality water that meets or exceeds the New Brunswick and Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines will be delivered to customers.

If there is a need for a Boil Water Order at any time, how will I be notified?

As the new Drinking Water Facility goes online, we do not anticipate a need for a temporary Boil Water Order. However, if you have not already done so, please sign up to receive Emergency Alerts through the City of Saint John to receive urgent notifications of this nature.  Saint John Water also uses traditional means of communication such as the media, City of Saint John website and social media. For general news and information, sign up for My Saint John email notifications and for any other questions call 658-4455.  

Will industrial customers use newly-treated drinking water? 

In 2018, customers who require water for industrial purposes will no longer be supplied with treated water. Instead, they will receive the less expensive raw water (non-treated).