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Public Information Notice: West Side Water Supply


The main feedback we have heard from west side Saint John Water customers since the conversion from Spruce Lake water to ground water from the new South Bay Wellfield in September has been linked to the hardness of the new drinking water. The following information provides some background and information on this topic. 

What are the differences between hard water and soft water?

Hard Water (New South Bay Well Water)

Hard water is actually viewed as being a healthier drinking water product than soft water as it has more minerals in it (is a good source of calcium and magnesium for the body). 
Hard water has less salt (sodium) in it than the soft water. 
Setting health aside and considering just aesthetics, people can notice a difference between the soft water and hard water when they are doing household chores. 
o Hard water can leave spots on dishes, dishwasher and on the bathtub. This film is not harmful in any way (it is simply minerals in the water). 
o The other noticeable difference can be that soap does not create the same amount of bubbles as it did with the soft water, something that may be noticeable to some people (i.e. lather created with soap when using hard water is not as bubbly). NOTE: since hard water is very common, a lot of soaps, shampoo and laundry detergents actually use citric acid to soften the water.
The use of simple household vinegar should eliminate any build-up or spot deposits on an appliance, such as a kettle or dishwasher.

Soft Water (Spruce Lake Water)

Soft water from Spruce Lake was corrosive and was hard on infrastructure.
Soft water did not however leave any residue on dishes, dishwashers or bathtubs and requires a small amount of soap to create lather and lots of bubbles. 

Public Health and the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality

Drinking water from Spruce Lake did not meet the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality and public health was at risk.
Drinking water from the new South Bay Wellfield does meet the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality and public health is now protected.

Treating Hardness

South Bay Well Water is considered hard water with its hardness range between 160mg/L (ppm) – 200mg/L (ppm) of CaCO3. 
The Drinking Water industry does not typically look at treating drinking water for hardness until your water quality has a hardness of greater than 300mg/L and treating at this level would only be for aesthetic reasons (NOTE – Health Canada does not have a limit on hardness) and if treatment occurs, it is only reduced to a range between 150mg/L to 200mg/L.
In New Brunswick, Fredericton has hardness that ranges in the 120mg/L to 150mg/L; and Perth Andover has hardness of approximately 170mg/L (so essentially the same as the West Side Water supply). Looking to other communities outside of New Brunswick, Guelph, Ontario has drinking water that has a hardness range of 300mg/L – 500mg/L. Kitchener, Ontario has drinking water hardness that is around 300mg/L and Brantford Ontario has a hardness of 240mg/L to 310mg/L. None of these communities treat their water for hardness.
Having a water softener is a personal choice as the only purpose the softener would serve would be for aesthetics and personal preferences. 

While the change in water quality is an adjustment for some, we would like to emphasize and celebrate that our drinking water on the West system now meets the Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality and public health is now protected

As an interesting fact, Nestle Pure Life bottled water, which is among the most popular bottled waters in the world, has a hardness range of 50mg/L to 250mg/L. So in other words, West Saint John now has bottled water quality drinking water!

Please contact Customer Service at 658-4455 if you have any questions regarding your water supply. 


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Corporate Communications
City of Saint John
11th floor, City Hall
(506) 649-6008