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You are here: City of Saskatoon DEPARTMENTS Utility Services Water and Wastewater Treatment Water Treatment Plant Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions 
Q.1 Is Saskatoon's water safe to drink?
Q.2 Who develops Drinking Water Guidelines?
Q.3 What water quality standards does the Water Treatment Plant have to meet?
Q.4 What is the likelihood of water contamination?
Q.5 What is Cryptosporidium or Giardia and how might they affect the consumer?
Q.6 What is my water pressure?
Q.7 Why is my tap water cloudy?
Q.8 How am I billed for the water I use?
Q.9 What causes large increases in my water bill?
Q.10 What chemicals are added to the water?
Q.11 What is being done about the aluminum in our drinking water?
Q.12 What level of chlorine is in my drinking water?
Q.13 Do I need to dechlorinate the water for my fish tank?
Q.14 Why is fluoride added to the treatment process?
Q.15 What is the hardness of Saskatoon's tap water?
Q.16 Should I consider a home water softener?
Q.17 Should I buy a home water purifier?
Q.18 Should I buy bottled water?


Q.1 Is Saskatoon's water safe to drink?
A.

The Environmental Services Branch and Water and Wastewater Treatment Branch have comprehensive testing programs in addition to carrying out the required testing of Saskatchewan Environment. Over 21,000 tests are performed each year on plant, reservoir and distribution system samples. Saskatoon's drinking water meets or exceeds all Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines as well as Saskatchewan's Municipal Drinking Water Quality Objectives.

Q.2 Who develops Drinking Water Guidelines?
A. Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality are developed by Health Canada in cooperation with the health and environment ministries of the provinces and territories. Municipal Drinking Water Quality Objectives, containing constituent objectives specific to Saskatchewan, are also established by the Federal Provincial Advisory Committee on Environmental and Occupational Health.

Q.3 What water quality standards does the Water Treatment Plant have to meet?
A. Staff regularly check over 93 different physical, chemical, microbiological, and radiological parameters in order to meet the National Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. Numerous, critical water parameters are monitored on a continuous basis. Over 21,000 tests are carried out every year.

Q.4 What is the likelihood of water contamination?
A. Extremely low. In repeated testing, Canadian drinking water has been found to be among the best in the world. Sensitive tests have been developed that can detect contaminants in water in concentrations as low as a few parts per-trillion (one part per-trillion is equivalent to one second in 320 centuries!). By treating drinking water we have virtually eliminated diseases such as typhoid and cholera.

Q.5 What is Cryptosporidium and/or Giardia and how might they affect the consumer?
A. Cryptosoridium and Giardia are single - celled, parasitic organisms that may be found in source waters. They originate from the intestinal track and wastes of warm blooded mammals (humans, beavers, deer, and cattle) and may be washed into surface water supplies. The organisms exist in surface water as dormant cysts which are extremely resistant to traditional chlorine disinfection. If present in the treated water, they may cause flu-like illnesses such as diarrhea that can, in the case of cryptosporidiosis, become life-threatening in the immunocompromised, the elderly, and the very young. The symptoms usually appear one to four weeks after a significant number of cysts have been ingested (30-50 cysts per 1000 litres of water). In order to prevent these organisms from entering the water distribution system, it is necessary to protect and control the water shed, ensure water treatment processes are well operated and monitored, and proper distribution system maintenance procedures are in place and followed. The Water Treatment Plant monitors for these cysts on a regular basis; and to date the organisms have not been detected in the treated water.

Q.6 What is my water pressure?
A. The water pressure at the Water Treatment Plant is maintained at 690 kPa (100 psi) throughout the year. However, distribution system pressures vary based on factors such as the contour of the land (the higher you are, the lower your pressure will be), and the system water demands. During the summer months in periods of high demand, system pressures can drop to 275 kPa (40 psi) as a result of the losses caused from pipe friction in the distribution system due to high water velocities. For more information regarding system pressures in your area, call 306-975-2476.

Q.7 Why is my tap water cloudy?
A. Tap water appears cloudy due to the dissolved air in the water. Cold water contains more dissolved air than warm water when the water enters your home. It warms and releases the dissolved air and bubbles are created. These bubbles cause the water to appear cloudy and are an aesthetic concern only. To deal with this concern either leave your tap run for a short while or fill a container and let it sit for a while and within minutes the bubbles will disappear.

Q.8 How am I billed for the water I use?
A. Water bills are calculated based on your water meter’s recorded consumption and the size of your meter.

Q.9 What causes large increases in my water bill?
A. There may be several reasons for an unusually large water bill: high consumption due to additional appliances (dishwasher), added lawn or garden watering, leaking plumbing fixtures, a billing adjustment from an actual meter reading after several months of estimates, or reconciling a meter read with the remote reader. For further clarification call a customer service representative at 306-975-2400.

Q.10 What chemicals are added to the water?
A. A total of eight chemicals are used in the treatment process, each having a very distinct purpose in water purification. Three chemicals are added to ensure a residual level exists when leaving the plant; chlorine and ammonia for disinfection, and fluoride which helps in the prevention of tooth decay. The remaining chemicals used are: potassium permanganate, ferric sulfate, and quicklime.

Q.11 What is being done about the aluminum in our drinking water?
A. Aluminum in drinking water has become a very emotional and contentious issue over the last few years.  Prior to January, 2000, the City of Saskatoon had an aluminum residual level of approximately 0.6 mg/L arising from the use of aluminum sulfate in the coagulation/clarification stage of treatment. In January, 2000, the City began to use ferric sulfate as an alternative coagulant. The outcome of this process change is lower residual aluminum in our finished water (approximately 0.031 mg/L). Other than lowering the residual aluminum, all other water quality characteristics will remain the same. For further information, please contact Bruce Dahl at 306-975-2737.

Q.12 What level of chlorine is in my drinking water?
A. Chlorine is added to our drinking water to ensure a residual of approximately 1.7 mg/L when the water leaves the treatment plant. The residual chlorine level is necessary to provide continued disinfection throughout the distribution system.

Q.13 Do I need to dechlorinate the water for my fish tank?
A. Since Saskatoon’s water contains chloramine as opposed to free chlorine, it cannot be readily removed by leaving the water sit or by bubbling air into it. Dechlorination tablets, readily available at most pet stores, are required for chloramine removal.

Q.14 Why is fluoride added to the treatment process?
A. Fluoride is added to our drinking water to maintain a level of approximately 0.7 mg/L in order to assist in the prevention of tooth decay.

Q.15 What is the hardness of Saskatoon's tap water?
A. Saskatoon’s raw water supply has a hardness of approximately 180 mg/L. Through the treatment process, it is reduced to about 160 mg/L (expressed as Calcium Carbonate). Saskatoon’s water is considered to be moderately hard.

Q.16 Should I consider a home water softener?
A. Since Saskatoon’s water is 160 mg/L of hardness, a water softener is not considered necessary. However, the degree of hardness a person tolerates is a matter of personal preference. Water softeners typically replace nontoxic hardness minerals with sodium which may be a concern for those on sodium restrictive diets if the cold water is softened.

Q.17 Should I buy a home water purifier?
A. Water produced by the City’s Water Treatment Plant meets all, and in most cases is better than, rigorous national drinking water quality standards. If not properly maintained, home purification and/or filtration systems can actually cause water quality problems. A carbon type filter may be beneficial for those allergic to chlorine but frequent filter changes must be made to prevent bacterial problems from developing. Determining if a water purifier or filter would be beneficial is a personal decision.

Q.18 Should I buy bottled water?
A. If you want a drink with different taste you may want to try bottled water, but the costs are approximately 1,000 times as much as your tap water. The bottled water industry is less regulated than municipal water treatment plants. Water produced by the City’s Water Treatment Plant meets all, and in most cases is better than, rigorous national drinking water quality standards.
                       
 
 
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