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A class action suit and letter on brown water

Tuesday, December 03, 2013   by: Staff has received the following letters about the east end brown water issues from loyal readers Brandon Gough and Mark Brown.

One thing is crystal clear from the PUC's presentation about so many people's poor looking, smelling and tasting water:

No quick fix for your water problems was offered.

Anybody who still has ongoing water issues after waiting two years for the PUC to fix them will just have to wait until some City Council appointed committee decides what, if any, action(s) will be taken to fix your problem.

Wrong answer.

There's already a committee for that. It is called the PUC Board of Directors.

And based on the reaction of the large number of citizens who attended last night's city council meeting, continuing to wait for a solution for a few more years while living with brown, chlorine tasting and smelling water is not a palatable option.

They're tired of waiting.

PUC customers with daily, ongoing water issues want, and deserve, a fix right now.

And it's the PUC Board of Directors who hold the power to fix those water problems right now.
They just have to spend the money for immediate installation of water filtration systems in the homes of PUC customers who have demonstrable ongoing water colour, taste and smell problems.

Any customer focused water company would do that to keep their customers happy after making them wait for two years while they paid top dollar for dirty, stinky, foul tasting water.

So, while we wait for the PUC Board of Directors to pay for home-based filtration systems, any PUC customer who wants to be part of a Class Action law suit for the money you have had to pay to deal with daily ongoing colour, taste and smell water problems brought on by the PUC's preferred water treatment process please contact:

We'll start collecting names for a Class Action law suit while we wait for the PUC Board of Directors to pay for home-based water filtration systems.

According to the PUC web site ( ), the next meetings of the PUC Board of Directors is onWednesday December 11, 2013 at their new building at 500 Second Line East in the Level 1 Training Room at the following times:

PUC Distribution Inc. 4:30 p.m.
Public Utilities Commission 5 p.m.
PUC Services Inc. 5:30 p.m.
PUC Inc. 6 p.m.

We will see what immediate solutions come out of those PUC Board of Director meetings before taking our next step.
In the mean time if you are interested in being part of a Class Action law suit against the PUC contact
Dear Mr. Parella,

It is with great concern that I am writing to you here today, but as a concerned citizen of Sault Ste. Marie, having not been directly affected by the brown water issue, but still feeling compassion for those citizens that have such as Ms. Burke, I attended last night’s council meeting as I wanted to hear what you had to say before our council members, Ms. Burke and other the individuals that attended last night who may have or haven’t been affected by the brown water issue plaguing our town as of late.

From a Public Relations standpoint, I would like to express my dissatisfaction for your apology and comments last night and feel that your entire tone last night lacked any sort of care and compassion for not only this specific issue, but for the residents that have been greatly affected by brown water in our city.

Reading off a piece of paper, with your head down, speaking in such a monotone speech that it makes seem as though you do not care about this issue, is no way that you should apologize to the citizens that your company serves.

On top of this, in no way did you ever suggest compensating citizens who have been battling through this as of late and in the past; rather you outlined in your ‘fact sheet’ you generously provided to the individuals in attendance, that refunding mere pennies back to citizens who have to flush their water to make it usable, does not make business sense and would cost the PUC more money to refund than the actual refund would be.

Well how about from our perspective?

It is very clear your eyes are closed when it comes to this matter, and rather than taking a proactive approach to dealing with this, you choose to be reactive and must suffer the consequences as such resulting in angry customers having to listen to you given them a disheartening apology because that was what was written on your ‘script’.

Many individuals (not including myself) have to buy bottled water and filters in order for them to use the water that the PUC provides to them, something that was echoed by several of the council members last night.

We do not live in a third world country; we live in Canada and for that matter, live right by the largest body of fresh water in the world!

We as not only Saultites, but Canadians, should not be plagued by brown water in our community.

In the interim you suggested that to solve the brown water issue, to flush our lines, not only driving up our already high water bills, but driving up customer dissatisfaction with PUC.

You offered us a glimpse of a solution, in that the PUC has this ‘stuff’ we can ask for from you that would eliminate brown water stains, but never mentioning if this is at cost to the customer, which would further gouge our pockets. I think the least the PUC could do is offer this for free to customers that are affected.

I would like to conclude this letter by pointing out something you may consider in the future, whether your position be with the PUC or not.

Public Relations is not always about appeasing your shareholders, your board of directors, your fellow employees and anyone else related in the business world.

Public Relations involves us as customers; the people that pay to use your service; the people that pay your salary!

The least we could have wanted from you last night was a more heartfelt apology, and in my opinion, that would have involved taking your eyes of your scripted ‘I’m sorry’, turning around and addressing the citizens of Sault Ste. Marie and giving us something we can accept.

I left last night with a bitter feeling having not received this from you as I’m sure many others who attended also felt.

You left us with more questions than answers with regards to this issue, but I should point out you did make it clear this brown water issue has no solution in the immediate future.

Compensation is something I feel PUC should consider as you have provided a ‘disservice’ to many residents, and I feel that regardless of the cost, we want our pennies back regardless of the cost because why should we pay for something we don’t use and rather fill your greedy pockets?

I will be sharing this letter with the local media for two reasons.

One, it is abundantly clear that Public Relations is not a strong suit within your company, and it takes our media to finally get the message across to you that this is not something we as citizens take lightly.

And two, this is the PUC we’re talking about, the ‘Public’ Utilities Commission, meaning that your company services the community as a whole, and as such, everyone should be open to hearing what has to be said regarding the inadequacies of your company.

It is high time to step out from behind your desk, step into the shoes of those affected, and express some real emotion for this situation, for as it stands right now, that glass of clean water you drank after your speech to council last night, should have been that jar of murky brown water you preach is ‘safe to drink’.

Brandon Gough

Concerned Citizen 



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Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of Keep discussions civil and on topic. Refrain from obscenity and don't post anything that your grandmother would be ashamed to read. Those who do not abide by these guidelines will have their membership revoked without notice. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
thera 12/3/2013 12:26:59 PM Report

Lol, I would pay to see Parella drink some of his own product. I bet he can't do it without flinching.
shju 12/3/2013 12:30:21 PM Report

All I can say is LOLOL. Everyone will jump on the bandwagon not because thier water is bad but because they think they will get money. Its sad what pennies will do to people. Not everyone is complaining about the water....
thera 12/3/2013 12:33:31 PM Report

@ Justin Tetreault:

What's your point with that article? It happened over 6 years ago. He has paid his debt to society (jail time, fine). Are you saying someone who was convicted of a crime can't ever have a voice? They aren't allowed to complain about anything, ever? Must they always be shunned by society?

Did you know that one of the main goals of the penal system is rehabilitation? Wait, don't answer that, I think I know.
JediMindTrick 12/3/2013 12:45:52 PM Report

*facepalm* all of this.
shju 12/3/2013 12:47:35 PM Report

not just a facepalm, but a Picard facepalm
R0FL0L 12/3/2013 12:50:36 PM Report

CBC Radio
scroll down to the article
"Northern city councils"
We check in with some of our northern city councils to see what our municipal politicians are up to. In Sudbury, decisions about daycare were made. Sault Ste. Marie had to deal with a dirty water issue. In Timmins, the topic of discussion was crosswalks."
incl. short clip with Steve Butland
Justin Tetreault 12/3/2013 12:51:05 PM Report

He read from a piece of paper?!??! The horrors! Start the class action right now!
jim 12/3/2013 12:59:29 PM Report

I have a hard time believing that PUC wasn't made aware of the possible risk of brown water with the switchover. They probably checked with cities with much newer water pipe. Somebody dropped the ball big time with a 'lets put it out their attitude' and deal with the problems later. I'm all for a return to the old system and I'll pay the extra
dadal 12/3/2013 1:00:54 PM Report

Justin Tetreault seems your goal is to discredit the people that are taking action against the PUC for their feet dragging. Do you work for the PUC that you went above and beyond to find past skeletons to use as ammo against the organizer? Something that happened so long ago and has not occurred since has no place in this. I'm sure that if someone was to dig in your past that things can be found. However, no one wants to because our concern is the PUC and their matter of fact attitude towards the water issues in the city. Get your priorities straight.
woodstove 12/3/2013 1:12:23 PM Report

Hey Koolaid, what a stupid thing to write. With a comment like that you have zero credibility.
MikeQ 12/3/2013 1:18:48 PM Report


As soon as you brought race to this conversation, you destroyed any small chance of someone actually taking you seriously. If you'd like to debate, or argue, or complain, do it with facts. Do not stereotype or profile based on your interpretation of a person's family name. Shame.
mattdoubleU 12/3/2013 1:20:03 PM Report

Dadal - Justin Tetreault is a wanna be politician. He had very few friends growing up. So think of him as a lying, useless, no good, wanna be politician. Nothing more, nothing less.
MikeQ 12/3/2013 1:21:45 PM Report

@ dadal

Couldn't have said it better myself. A person convicted, does the time and pays their dues. Let he throw the first stone...

The man is still a Canadian citizen, with valid points, and an excellent grasp on public relations and written communication. Good on him for using his rights to make a change lots of people see necessary.
Lone24 12/3/2013 1:37:29 PM Report

Well put Koolaid that's exactly the way it works in this city. Its not what you know its who you bend brown for.
northernmale 12/3/2013 1:38:09 PM Report

I often wonder if the real reason for switching to the way our water is treated now is because they found out ammonia in your water is not good and may cause cancer??? One has to wonder with the high cancer rate in this city.I always rember people saying its something in the water. Just maybe they new more then they thought they did.
Outside Observer 12/3/2013 1:55:42 PM Report

Koolaid and Lone24 need to bow out of commenting if they are going to spout disgusting prejudicial comments like that. Did ya ever think that maybe there are so many Italians with good jobs in the city because... gasp... there are a lot of Italians in the city? By the same tolken you could say they OBVIOUSLY have their jobs because of the colour of their skin. All you whities out there are in cahoots! Oh wait, no, that's just because the Soo is 90% white! Demographics don't equal nepotism.
Koolaid 12/3/2013 1:58:23 PM Report

Also they wouldn't have these problems if they would of hired a qualified person for the job of CEO at the PUC, and not a friend or relative. And who knows the contract company that laid the pipe work for the east end weren't friends or relatives of some people on city council or even the CEO of the city?
shju 12/3/2013 2:10:30 PM Report

they would have the same problems no matter what. The issue is from the past and what they used to build the system.
Lone24 12/3/2013 2:21:03 PM Report

@Outside Observer
Give your head a shake. I don't recall saying anything about the Italians. Maybe your guilty because your one of them and you know what a lot of people say about them.
amw90 12/3/2013 2:23:44 PM Report

I am so afraid to drink tap water because of PUC. I have to pay extra for bottled water for me.
troubador 12/3/2013 2:36:37 PM Report

PUC should have a class action suit against them,,, it's about time and I think it's great for Mr.Branden and Mr.Brown to start this..This problem with
the water should have been taken care of by now..
Rainy38 12/3/2013 2:42:56 PM Report

Idiots who only have skeletons in someones closet to bring to the table really shouldn't be commenting here like JUSTIN. I bet you have plenty! One thing has nothing to do with the other. I would trust this young man before a wannabe politician liar any day!!
theprotector 12/3/2013 2:44:19 PM Report

I would like too know what directive the puc employees have been given to provide misguided information to the public. Does this go all the way to the top? Who knows what and why are they trying to cover it up? Is someone getting paid to shut up? Has anyone else heard about employees being told that if they tell they risk losing their job?
Algomasteammaker 12/3/2013 2:48:40 PM Report


Ammonia and Chlorine in drinking water is used as extra insurance to ensure that no bacteria is present in the water we drink. As long as it is within the low doses recommended by Canadian Drinking Water standards, it isn't harmful for consumption.

Funny you should mention Cancer, because a few years ago, all municipal potable water plants had to change were they injected the chlorine during the potable water treatment process because of the formation of a Cancer Causing byproducts called Trihalomethane (THM's). It was a potable water industry practice to put the chlorine in during the first stage of the water treatment process in a large holding tank called a Clarifier. The intent was to kill any bacteria at the start of the process to ensure that no bacteria could slip through the systems and make it to the clean (safe) drinking water supply that fed the system customers. However, is was discovered that when you kill of large amounts of living organisms (bacteria, algae etc), and they are allowed to decay in a large tank, they break down and form Trihalomethane, which can cause cancer. Once this was discovered, the drinking water guidelines where changed to prevent this. Now, municipal potable water treatment plants inject the chlorine in two places, on the outlet of the treatment system (usually at the outlet of the Ultraviolet lamps which are used to change the DNA makeup of any micro-organisms that slip through the treatment process so they can't hurt humans who consume them) and in the main potable water storage tank just before the water is pumped to the distribution system (i.e. to the customers).

So please, rest easy, I can assure you that we have very safe drinking water standards here in Canada. The water is tested all the time during the cleaning process and after the process when it is distributed to ensure it falls within the guidelines set out by Health Canada.
Rainy38 12/3/2013 3:21:02 PM Report

well...that doesn't really explain the brown water does it??
Rainy38 12/3/2013 3:22:48 PM Report

@ Justin...Is this you?? A lawyer?? If it is then any point you make is mute in my opinion!!
T-pot 12/3/2013 3:38:26 PM Report

The brown water must be caused by aliens. Because water can't get brown from iron pipes apparently.

Think of a stream, or creek. Water is nice and clear. Take a step into it and stir up the silt and sand on the bottom. What happens?

Same thing that happens to our water system when you disturb it's path.
shju 12/3/2013 3:48:08 PM Report

There is less chlorine now then before, The only reason you smell it more is because there isn't any more ammonia masking the smell. That great tasting water you claim was just ammonia....
David Poluck 12/3/2013 4:13:29 PM Report

Why make things so complicated when the way to better communicate and be part of a solution is available.
When the agreement between the city and P.U.C. inc was restructured earlier this year an improvement was made so that the board meetings are now open to the public and minutes of the meetings are available at the city clerks office.
The opportunity now exists because of that change for those share holders interested in P.U.C. board operations to sit in and when appropriate through procedure to participate.

If you would like further information to the new agreement you can contact PUC, city clerk or the procedural group of the Sault Association of Ratepayers.

If you would like help in organizing or have any questions please contact us.
Outside Observer 12/3/2013 6:02:02 PM Report


You directly endorsed a post that was making racially pointed statements (put two and two together and figure it out) and then you went on to say "that's exactly how it works"!! What do you have to hide behind!? It was an indirect implication, but it was pretty clear. Maybe you should have started with "I don't agree with what you are implying, but..." and then made your comment. Saying someone isn't qualified or has "kissed ass" to get a job is one thing, but saying it is systematic because of one ethnic group is offensive.

Also, If I were "one of them", what would I be "guilty" of? That doesn't even make any sense. Maybe give your head a shake and think before you type (and maybe use grammar check).
chatterbox 12/3/2013 8:07:12 PM Report

RE: Class Action Lawsuit

Has anybody thought that such a lawsuit would only cost us? Doesn't the P in PUC stand for public?

Great idea, lets sue ourselves...
As an earlier poster said, forget the lawsuits and name calling, lets be part of the solution...
soccermom 12/3/2013 8:36:25 PM Report

i know this sucks i personally will not drink tap water anymore, other then milk that is all i drink. it really irks me that i have to let my water run 10 min or more to get rid of the smell & even then i can still smell it & i don't live in the east end. has anyone considered all the construction that is going on might be disrupting the pipes & sediment even more then the change of the system that the p.u.c. did. i have heard that the contractors have to flush the water for weeks sometimes before it passes,there is definitely a problem here. time to wake up p.u.c & accept responsibility spend the $$ in the coffers & fix the issue
Brian505 12/4/2013 10:09:46 AM Report

The puc states "The city's water system is continually tested and meets or exceeds Ontario drinking water standards."

Maybe they should read the

Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards

where it states that turbidity limit is 5NTU (Applicable for all waters at the point of consumption.)

or even read

Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality:
Supporting Documentation

that's what our brown water has, yet we call it brown water.

I use a 10 micron whole house filter and it does NOT filter out the brown water.

As far as a refund, the PUC says
" For the average consumer that runs a tap for 10 minutes to flush out the brown water, the cost is less than 4 cents. To issue refunds for such a small amount would result in significant administration costs and just doesn�t make business sense."

what they don't say is our sewer charge is a percent of the water usage, and it is the higher of the two.

so what we need is refund for the flushing water AND flushing water sewer charges.
Why not put on our bill
"Brown water refund $1.00"
Oh wait, that would be acknowledging that their water does NOT meet "Ontario clean water act"
nonna3 12/4/2013 1:48:26 PM Report

At the meeting, I heard that the cause of the last brown water issue was a private hydrant on private property and that it wasn't reported for an hour. Apparently there are 200 private hydrants in the area. Owners are responsible for maintenance. How does that work? Why does anyone have a private hydrant?
jojo12345 12/5/2013 1:42:05 AM Report

nothing to loose to give your name for that law suit..if it work it money involved from our pocket
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