Town water 'shockingly black' after pipes flushed

·3 min read

Some Sackville residents started their Sunday with an unpleasant sight - black or brown water coming from their taps.

And for a few residents, the issue was not fully resolved more than a day later.

Melanie Long-Pitre of Zwicker Drive said she first noticed this issue around 9:20 a.m. Sunday. She called a neighbour, and then posted to Facebook to see if others were also experiencing water issues.

She soon discovered a number of others were.

Nearby, Cathy Crinnion in Ogden Mill, told the Times & Transcript her water was “shockingly black” on Sunday morning.

Later Sunday, the town issued a bulletin for residents, stating the municipality "experienced a technology communication failure between our water treatment plant and water tower early this [Sunday] morning. As a result, residents may experience discoloration in their water, as well as low pressure. Our Public Works crew is currently attending to the issue with watermain flushing in strategic areas, and we hope to have it resolved soon."

Dwayne Acton, the town’s engineer, said the discolouration is caused by iron and manganese deposits loosened in the pipes when water surged through them at a higher velocity than usual.

When the computer system issue occurred with the altitude valve, the town engaged in a flushing program, but this action can make the situation worse, at least visually, and cause the discolouration residents saw, he said.

“Although it doesn’t look the best, it won’t harm you to drink or use,” he said.

Staff worked Saturday night and into Sunday to resolve the issue, Acton said, adding that things were for the most part back to normal on Monday.

But residents in some areas said they were still seeing discolouration, although less intense.

Long-Pitre said her water wasn't completely back to normal and was unsure whether it was safe to drink until the town issued a second advisory around noon on Monday.

Crinnion said by mid-afternoon Sunday her water was at least 85 per cent clearer, but by Monday morning it wasn’t completely back to normal, and she made plans to bring in water to use. Late Monday afternoon, Crinnion said her water was finally running clear.

She said she was surprised that the initial advisory Sunday did not indicate if the water was safe to use.

Acton said the town is now advising residents that if they are still experiencing discoloured water, to run their cold water taps to see if the water clears. If it does not, they should contact Public Works at 363-4960.

While the issue initially affected the whole town, it was more acute and long-lasting in the Ogden Mill and Reservoir Road areas, he said.

The town planned to engage in light flushing based on reports of ongoing issues so as not to make the discolouration pronounced again, while trying to resolve the issue, Acton said.

Long-Pitre said as of 5 p.m. Monday, though markedly improved, the situation had not fully resolved in her home.

Jamie Burke, chief administrator officer for the town, confirmed that they received a few reports of water discolouration through the day and were continuing to flush the system as of 5 p.m. Monday, but hoping to have things back to normal soon.

Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal