It doesn’t happen just by chance. There is a strict, consistent monitoring procedure undertaken by the city to ensure residents have a safe drinking water supply.
Municipal Works director Greg Gaudet said the process is meticulous and all encompassing.
The city just published its 2012 water quality report and the Summerside drinking water supply was clear. That wasn’t always the case.
“In 2001, the city started chlorinating its water,” Gaudet said. “That was due to a few reasons. They had issues back in 2001 with some groundwater contamination. Ever since 2001 they’ve chlorinated their wells. It’s not required but we do it just as a safety precaution to get rid of any bacteria that may be residual in the system.”
Gaudet said by monitoring chlorine residual in the system at eight different points. the city can tell how well the system is operating by that residual.
“You’re always supposed to have a 0.1 parts per million residual of chlorine in the water,” he said. “That tells you it hasn’t been all used up. As long as you see a small residual you know you’ve a clean, good drinking water supply. That means you can’t go above a certain threshold as well. You’ve got to stay within the parameters.”
He said the city monitors this three or four times a week.
“Then we go around and do all the samples for the chlorine and that’s just to maintain that it’s a good source of drinking water,” Gaudet said. “Every two weeks we go through a sampling cycle of the eight areas. They’re broken up pretty much by ward.”
Gaudet said the city has spots inside the eight zones where water samples are taken at the tap and sent to the provincial laboratory in Charlottetown. The laboratory will report back n three basic bacteria - the background bacteria count, fecal coliform, ecoli bacteria.
“Those are the three ones they test for on that bi-weekly rotation,” he said. “Every two weeks we send away eight samples of our system. Also, once a month, we test all of our well supplies for the same three bacteria growth. So, by monitoring the chlorine levels three and four times a week and by doing bi-weekly samples of the eight areas and a monthly sample of all the water supply wells, we see if there’s been any issue coming up from those test results.”
Once every year the city conducts nitrate testing in the well supplies.
“The nitrate testing is another guideline that has to make sure your well supplies in your water system are below 10 parts per million for nitrates for safe guidelines of drinking water,” Gaudet said. “And every three years we do a full microchemistry of the water. We get into the heavy metals, barium and all the different minerals in the water to make sure that the sources of water don’t have any high concentrations of hard minerals or metals that are outside the drinking guidelines.”
The city will also do sampling at the request of customers, Gaudet said.
“If anybody has any issues they feel with their water, we’ll do at test as part of our regular sampling and use that as our sample.
The 2012 test results can be found on the City of Summerside’s website.