• John Jantak

New filters should reduce manganese levels in Saddlebrook water supply


St. Lazare residents Paola Ierra and Ignazio Turrigiano say they’re frustrated after dealing with discoloured water from the presence of manganese for the past six years.

After years of complaints from Saddlebrook residents about discoloured tap water, St. Lazare will take measures to reduce the level of manganese in the water supply later this year, Mayor Robert Grimaudo told Your Local Journal during a telephone interview on April 18.

Saddlebrook residents Paola Ierra and Ignazio Turrigiano recently took up the cause and sent an email to the town asking what they will do to improve the situation, saying the high concentration of manganese has them wondering whether there are possible adverse health implications from regularly consuming the area’s tap water.

They moved into their new home six years ago and are dismayed the situation still hasn’t been resolved. Other Saddlebrook residents have also raised the issue during question period at previous monthly council meetings and appealed to the town to do something about the problem.

Not deemed dangerous

While the discoloured water may look unsightly, Grimaudo reassured residents that consuming it is not dangerous and is perfectly safe for bathing, showering, washing dishes and doing laundry. Unfortunately, it’s an issue that has affected Saddlebrook residents when the first houses were built about 20 years ago, he added.

“There is no danger to public health, that’s for sure,” said Grimaudo. “Is it fine to have? No, absolutely not. We’re very much aware of the problem and we’re on top of it. In fact we’re putting a project in place at the Saddlebrook Well where we will be installing a filter system that will control the manganese levels. We’re also looking into receiving a subsidy to do the work.”

Photo courtesy Paola Ierra

Grimaudo said the town just completed its annual spring flushing of its water system to get rid of all the manganese that has accumulated in the pipes over winter, which has always been a stop-gap measure. “The permanent solution is the installation of the special filters which is allocated in the 2017 municipal budget for infrastructure upgrades. It should be done sometime later this year,” he added.

While Ierra and Turrigiano are pleased the town will finally do something, they both agree the town should be more conscientious about resolving issues that could directly impact people’s health and safety despite reassurances that the water is and has always been safe to use and consume.

Long-time issue

“The town says there’s manganese in the water and they say it’s not bad for you, but how much is too much?” asked Ierra. “Who’s testing the water to make sure it’s acceptable? Manganese is already in food we already eat. I don’t want to say things or blame anyone just to make a big deal out of it but there’s a problem and it needs to be addressed. There are residents who have been here 15-20 years and they’re still dealing with the same issue.”

Question of priorities

Ierra added that if the town is able to find money for a new city hall, the annual Festival au Galop and for subsidizing sports for children and teens, they should have made more of an effort to find the necessary funds to resolve the Saddlebrook water issue sooner.

“I don’t want to minimize anyone else’s issues but stop overspending on things,” said Ierra. “What people don’t realize is that it’s still coming out of their pockets. Cut the spending and do the necessities. If people say ‘this is a priority’, the town will look into it. If people don’t say anything, then the town won’t do anything.”

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