PUC tackling murky, smelly water issue

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tap water

The Chatham-Kent Public Utilities Commission is taking a two-stage approach to clean up Chatham and area’s drinking water.

Tom Kissner, general manager of the PUC, said the commission will spend a little over $1 million to purchase equipment that will remove the dirty colour, as well as the odour and taste, from our drinking water that occurs when Lake Erie suffers an inversion, which typically happens each fall.

Last year, taps in Chatham, Dresden, Mitchell’s Bay, Pain Court, Kent Bridge and Thamesville – areas served by the Chatham Water Treatment Plant – had brown, smelly water pouring from them following turnover on Lake Erie in the fall. The putrid-looking water left the PUC flooded with complaints.

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Kissner said by this fall, he hoped to see the discolouration issue addressed.

“We’ve broken the project into two segments. The first is installation of sodium permanganate, which should take care of the colour issue,” he said.

This should be in place by the end of August, Kissner said, adding that it is designed to bond with manganese that’s in the water, which is what gives the water its yellow-brown colour after a lake inversion. Manganese is in the lakebed, and when the lake gets churned up, it becomes suspended in the water.

The second phase of the project involves the use of powder activated carbon. Kissner said the acid in the water, which is what gives off the taste and odour, will be absorbed by the carbon.

That equipment should be in place early in 2015, he said.

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