Residents in areas of Winnipeg have been subject to dark brown water flowing from their taps over the summer and, while the mayor now says there should be some compensation for the bother, there is still no official confirmation.
Residents are understandably upset and are starting to act out. Brenda Maxwell is saving containers of the brown sauce and has invited Mayor Sam Katz and other city officials to attend a tea party.
"It was just so dark I just said 'That's enough. I'm going to fill the containers and invite them to come has a sip with me,'" she told CTV Winnipeg, adding that she expects the city to reimburse her for the cost of bottled water.
Others have joined the chorus, complaining of ruined laundry and costly replacements for their soiled tap water.
Katz suggested to CBC News this week that some recourse may be available. If residents have "proof of some kind," compensation may be available. So far, however, the city isn't paying out. Policy states that as long as the water is drinkable, the government is not liable.
Winnipeg Water and Waste officials believe the brown water is caused by sediment such as dead algae and minerals, likely stirred up by an increase to the rate of flow through the system.
The city's water supply comes from Shoal Lake and, ironically, a new $300 million water treatment plant just began operating in 2009.
This hasn't been Canada's only recent dalliance with dirty tap water. Far from it. In April, Edmonton's water featured an unfortunate smell and odd colour, also attributed to sediment.
An excerpt from the book "Down the Drain," published in The Tyee, suggests that Canada's network of water systems is frequently found to be precarious. Authors Ralph Pentland and Chris Wood suggest more than 500 doctor and emergency room visits a day are traced to water.
On any given day, public health authorities report more than 1,500 water advisories in force in Canada. They warn residents of affected homes either to boil or sterilize tap water before they consume it or not drink it at all.
In some ways, Winnipeggers are lucky. The city says the tap water is safe to drink. Although they would still be forgiven for not drinking it.
"Customers may occasionally experience dirty or discoloured tap water, ranging from a light tea colour to a dark brown cola-like appearance," the city states. "While this is unpleasant, the water continues to be safe and meet licence and regulatory requirements."
Well, as long as the mud meets regulators requirements, there is no need to be concerned.
While the mayor may say publicly that residents should be reimbursed for the dirty water, city policy remains opposition.
Considering the brown water is fine for plants and begins running clear eventually, all is well. Of course, there is still no confirmation that city officials have accepted their invitations to the brown water tea party.
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