We would like to update residents regarding the unpleasant water discolouration, odour and taste being experienced by the community.
As previously determined and communicated, these issues are aesthetic in nature, and consuming and using water as normal does not pose a risk to human health. This finding is supported by ongoing testing and reviews being conducted by Corix Utilities, ALS (an independent lab), and Alberta Environment and Parks.
Naturally Occurring Substances
Testing has determined the discolouration and unpleasant taste is the result of naturally occurring manganese. Manganese is found in most drinking water and at higher concentrations will produce brownish colouration and off taste, but is only a health risk at very high concentrations. Health Canada sets a Maximum Acceptable Concentration (MAC) of 0.12 mg/L for manganese in drinking water. Our testing confirms Harmony water falls well below this threshold, at between 0.02-0.04 mg/L, and just above the Aesthetic Objective (AO) of 0.02 mg/L.
In addition to manganese, microscopic organic compounds such as geosmin algae have also been detected. These compounds are harmless, but can give water an earthy odour and taste. Environmental conditions have made it difficult to remove them completely from our water supply.
Why can’t these substances be removed?
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to treat water to remove manganese and geosmin. Complex settling and filtering systems would be required, which are not practical options for small, community water systems.
Additionally, Harmony’s water is surface water drawn from a reservoir replenished by the Bow River. The cycling through of this reservoir’s water can take many weeks, so variations in water quality can take time to self-correct. Surface water quality is also heavily influenced by environmental conditions, such as rain/snowfall and temperature. For instance, current ice cover is preventing better aeration of the reservoir.
Time is our friend
We trust that time and Mother Nature will be our best allies in resolving our water quality issue. With time, these substances will continue to settle and be flushed out of the reservoir. And warmer weather should allow for greater aeration, and replenishment with the spring freshet.
We will continue our program of increased water testing, aeration, and system flushing – in every attempt to provide the community with best water quality possible, given the circumstances. We thank all residents for their understanding and patience as we work through this issue.