Barriere water discolored, but safe to drink

District explains why off-coloured water coming out of the taps in Barriere

Over the past few weeks residents in the community of Barriere, B.C., have been voicing concerns about the quality of the water coming out of a number of taps within the municipality.

In an interview with District of Barriere CAO Colleen Hannigan we asked about these concerns.

“White and brown flecked water has been showing up in different locations in our municipal water system over the past few weeks. It even came out of the taps at Mayor Stamer’s home.” said Hannigan, “We do know why this is happening, but most importantly there is no danger from a health perspective. The levels of chlorination and weekly testing ensure that the water is safe to drink.”

Hannigan explained that the municipality’s water system is a combination of a number of pipe loops and dead ends of varying sizes and ages that supply all the water service connections in the Barriere water system. Water from deep wells on Spruce Crescent and now Bradford Park as well, is chlorinated and then pumped into the looped system. Large water reservoirs, situated on both the north and south ends of the system, provide both storage and head pressure.

“A malfunctioning pressure relief valve (PRV) on Feb. 8, resulted in damage to adjacent equipment in a below ground vault on Spruce Crescent, and a shutdown of our main deep well on Spruce Crescent was necessary,” told the CAO, “There is a minimum six week time frame to replace this equipment and bring that well back on line to share pumping duties. Being located in a confined space vault, a decision has been made to relocate this equipment inside the existing Spruce Crescent well house.”

She notes that in the meantime, one of the new wells at Bradford Park has been carefully brought up to speed to take over from the main Spruce Crescent well to supply water into the system.

“Because it is a new well, some may have noticed cloudy water around that time which was actually microbubbles that dissipate after a few minutes of letting it set,” said Hannigan.

She said some areas on Barriere water also began noticing “off-coloured water with white and/or iron-coloured flecks” and reported their findings to the District.

“What is happening is similar to the off-coloured water that may occur temporarily during hydrant flushing,” Hannigan said, “The change in the physical location of the wells pumping into the system has caused the water to run in the opposite direction in some areas; and because of this, those lines are being flushed of any mineral build up that may have been accumulating in the lines for years.”

She also noted that on Sunday, Mar. 10, there was a fire south of Barriere at Louis Creek that required the Barriere Fire Department water tanker to fill up on four occasions from the hydrant near the Esso Station which is at the very south end of the District’s water system.

“Filling a water tanker draws a lot more water than usual through those pipes,” said Hannigan, “When the hydrant is then turned off after each fill, the system then experiences a shock of the water rebounding back through the pipes from the south end and flowing in the opposite direction, only to surge back again on the next fill.”

She added that this is called a ‘hydraulic water hammer’ and has resulted in additional off-coloured water showing up at residences on Mountain Road, Barkley Road, Lilley Road, and a few other locations; while other areas report they have experienced no effect at all.

“A thorough flushing of household systems will get rid of this pipe residue,” advised Hannigan.

She also says residents cleaning off the white calcium chloride buildup in coffee pots, dishwasher lines, etcetera, will find regular vinegar can be very effective.

“We ask for your patience as we work to rectify these issues in the town water system,” said Hannigan.

Residents who would like more information are encouraged to contact the District of Barriere office at 250-672-9751, Monday through Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. with any further questions.

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