• John Jantak

Tap water improvement in St. Lazare’s Saddlebrook district


Saint-Lazare’s Saddlebrook area residents Paola Irrera and Ignazio Turrigiano had expressed concern for eight years over their potable water supply that left a significant brown build-up of manganese on their home’s filter – shown here after a one-year period.

Saddlebrook residents in St. Lazare should be noticing an improvement with their tap water after a new water filter and filtration technique were installed and implemented by the town to remove the discolouration that unnerved many residents over several years.

Residents Paola Irrera and her husband Ignazio Turrigiano welcomed the news. They were both concerned that the discolouration of their tap water which was caused by high levels of manganese in the underground water source that provide Saddlebrook residents with their drinking water could have caused negative health consequences.

“This problem has been going on since 2009 yet it took this long to finally begin resolving the situation. “Why wasn’t it a priority? This makes me even more upset,” said Irrera.

Never a health risk

Mayor Robert Grimaudo told Your Local Journal there was never a health risk even though residents regularly complained about a light brownish tinge that would stain their sinks and bathtubs and which was directly attributed to the high concentration of manganese. He added the town regularly conducted water quality tests to ensure its safety.

“If it was a matter of health and security, there would have been restrictions on the drinking water,” said Grimaudo. “The town has been aware of it for many years. I cannot speak for previous councils. All I know is what we’ve done since 2013. We’ve progressively tried different and techniques. It was a process of elimination. We started by flushing the system in 2014 and we did this regularly. It helped but very little.”

Ministry approval required

The reason it took so long for the situation to be rectified is because of the approval process required by the Ministry of Environment before any work can be done, said Grimaudo. “Every time we tried something new, there was always a requirement from the Ministry of Environment to provide an authorization certificate,” he said.

“When we send our suggestion to the ministry, they evaluate it. It can take months and sometimes much longer until they get back to us. With the last filter we put in, we also used a new technique to introduce the neutralizing agent for the manganese into the water,” said Grimaudo.

When the town received authorization to proceed with the work, they immediately began the installation process in early October. “It took almost one year for us to receive approval from the ministry. I’m very happy to hear that things are working well,” he said.

Discoloured water filter

Even though there was no apparent health risk from the discoloured water, Irrera and Turrigiano still have doubts about the mud-like colour on their main water filter that they installed last November and removed recently to show Your Local Journal.

“I’m drinking this and it may be affecting me,” said Irrera. “I find it really upsetting that I’m drinking this stuff.” They plan to bring the filter to the next council meeting on December 5 to show the mayor and councillors.

While Irrera and Turrigiano also were dismayed at times about the town’s apparent slow response to the problem, they said Grimaudo reached out to them recently to ask whether they’ve notice a change in their water.

After filling up a glass of water from her kitchen tap last Friday afternoon, Irrera held it up and noticed it was clear.

“I’m really glad they’re finally doing something about it,” she said. “When it comes to public health and safety, that should always be the priority.”

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