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Mark Brown is incorrect, says PUC president

Wednesday, December 11, 2013   by: Staff



Recent online posts by Mr. Mark Brown indicating that the PUC Board of Directors will be making a decision at tonight’s Board meeting in relation to the current brown water situation in the east end of the city are not correct. 

Mr. Brown provided me with his suggestions and I forwarded them to the board as an information item only.

The matter of a long term solution to this very complex issue will not be decided tonight.

In accordance with the plan of action identified by PUC at the December 2 City Council meeting, such decision will be made in January 2014. 

Here below is the text of the message PUC delivered to City Council and all PUC customers on December 2:

Madame Mayor, City Councillors, Ladies and Gentlemen;

I am here tonight to deliver an important message to all PUC customers.

The PUC has a responsibility to provide the citizens of Sault Ste. Marie with a reliable supply of clean, clear water. 

Our customers have a right to that expectation.

Unfortunately, due to changes made recently to comply with provincial regulations, we have on occasion not met our customers’ expectations - and for that I am truly sorry. 

We need to do better.

I apologize to those customers who have had to deal with brown water coming from their taps.

I understand how disconcerting that can be.

Brown water, although a normal occurrence in any water system with iron and concrete pipes, is unacceptable to our customers and to our company with the frequency recently being experienced.

We are dedicating significant effort to developing and implementing a long term solution - and I can assure you we will find that solution.

It’s a complicated and complex problem to fix. 

But, at the end of the day we must deliver clean, clear water to your homes.

In January a committee that includes representatives from City Council, members of the public, the Ministry of Environment and Algoma Public Health will conclude a review of available options and provide input towards selecting the preferred solution.

The committee has been working since mid-September to address this issue.

Based on the opinions of subject experts and the Committee’s input, we are going to make some important decisions. 

And we will move ahead as quickly as possible to clean up the ongoing brown water problem - as well as the taste and odour issues.

We are dealing with hundreds of kilometres of pipe that bring water to your homes. 

There are over 450 kms of pipe under the streets of this city.

Some of those pipes have been in the ground as much as 100 years and there is internal corrosion which results in discoloured water. 

Those deposits of corrosion scale and sediment have been accumulating for many years.

One way to clean up the water is to flush the sediment from those lines. 

That flushing program is underway but it will still take a few years before all of the lines are adequately flushed.

Even though the problem of brown water occurs in all municipal water systems, such frequency of occurrence is still not acceptable.

Every citizen of this community has the right to expect clean clear water every time they turn on the tap.

We at the PUC need to ensure that happens sooner than later.

We also have an obligation to our customers to communicate with them in a timely fashion, particularly when there are major problems that affect their homes and their families.

When the latest brown water incident occurred on the evening of Wednesday, November 20, we were simply not equipped to deal with the large number of calls that came in all at once to our after-hours line. (> 300 calls)

As a result, we provided very poor customer service to those people calling in with questions about their water.

They had legitimate concerns about their water and needed guidance on what to do.

Again, I sincerely apologize to those people. 

We take full responsibility for failing to meet our customers’ communications needs after hours.

In the future, when this type of incident occurs, we will have additional staff on hand to answer your calls and deal with your concerns.

While it is impossible to predict when or where customers will experience brown water, we will step up our efforts to ensure PUC staff are ready to take your calls when such events do occur.

I have personally spoken to some of our frustrated customers, including Ms. Burke, who sent me a very articulate letter that summarized her concerns, and those of many customers.

I respect those opinions and understand your frustration.

We are also frustrated that there is no quick fix to this problem.

When you are in a business like ours that provides a vital service, “water”, the customer is the number one priority.

We are going to work hard to regain your trust and live up to your expectations of clean clear water in your homes.

Thank you, everyone, for your time and attention.

Dominic Parrella
President and CEO
PUC Services Inc.


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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.
Gurpy 12/11/2013 4:23:52 PM Report

Interesting headline considering NOTHING would be moving if he hadn`t become involved!
right wing 12/11/2013 4:29:28 PM Report

Mark Brown is a headline seeking loudmouth...nothing more.
xyz123 12/11/2013 4:44:19 PM Report

Why does Sootoday keep accepting and posting Mark Brown "news" releases. Can we do submit relaeses on any issue we want at any time. Does Mark Brown work for Sootoday
Sam C 12/11/2013 5:00:19 PM Report

Gurpy... right wing is right-on!

It IS a complicated issue, and I believe the PUC is working on finding a solution.

The water is safe, if sometimes unpleasant in appearance and odour.

I should note that while I have experienced a slight bleachy odour on occasion, it has been some time since I have noticed any odour at all, and I have not yet had the displeasure of experiencing the brown water. Unfortunately, it depends where you live -- your proximity to a pumping station, and the PUC's progress in flushing the system.
boler76 12/11/2013 5:13:36 PM Report

How many other jurisdictions do we here complaints of brown water?
AnnieP 12/11/2013 5:25:38 PM Report

What about helping the homeowners with some sort of temporary solution while we wait for you to fix the problem. How about water filters in each home affected or delivery of bottled water? I am sure that the people who sell home water filtration systems are making a killing! PUC should be paying for that! We need something done NOW. Not even the PUC can give us a date when this will be cleared up. It has been 2 years and they are only now looking at solutions?
northernmale 12/11/2013 5:41:45 PM Report

Why can they not speed up the flushing ? Rather then wait till home owners use enough water to flush the lines.Maybe they could run a take off pipe that runs back to the river without having to be treated in anyway as its clean water.Set it up so it runs at night when less home owners are using water this should speed up the flushing and the home owners do not fit the sewage charge.
houston 12/11/2013 5:43:55 PM Report

Right Wing; You are a coward! If you want to verbally attack someone, use your real name!
I used to live in the east end; and one of the reasons we moved, was the brown water.
Jimssm 12/11/2013 6:15:34 PM Report

I DO live in the east end.

No problem with the water.

If those supposedly having problems want free filters, free water, free anything, why should I have to pay for it?
Hill Billy 12/11/2013 6:16:26 PM Report

These things will take time, and so long as the situation is being address people need to be patient. It is what it is.
right wing 12/11/2013 6:19:51 PM Report

Really houston.
I live in the East end.
I am in the water business and M.B. does not know what he is talking about.
When he makes statements like "bombarding out water with chlorine", when they are now adding less chlorine...and that the PUC adds trihalomathanes to our water, a completely false and idiotic statment...I call the man as I read him. for you moving from the East end due to brown water...I say bullcrap.
Where did you live in the East end?
houston 12/11/2013 6:34:53 PM Report

It's not just an issue with drinking the water; it also leaves brown stains in all sinks and toilets.
I said it was one of the reasons we moved; not the only one. We now have an artesian well. All home owners that are having this problem are going to have to install a water filter on the incoming water. If you are in the water business; the brown water should be a financial windfall for you. The issue here is; who is going to pay for the water filters.
right wing 12/11/2013 6:44:05 PM Report

It is not a financial wind fall by any stretch of the imagination.
This is due to the fact that I inform people that they should not be purchasing any water filtration simply due to the intermittent water problems.
They should be purchasing water filtration for chemical removal...something I was an advocate for before the change over and after.
The chemicals were worse prior and the turbidity always was just not visible.
The visible turbidity will go away and my stance will remain the same.
I have filtered water prior to the change over with five micron filters...the filters come out brown after three months.
Again I ask you...were did you live in the East end...I noticed you did not answer.
right wing 12/11/2013 7:01:12 PM Report

...and just to add, some providers out there may be using what is currently, temporarily, going on to sell some equipment.
Sorry, I like to use education, not scare tactics.
guestwho 12/11/2013 7:10:29 PM Report

if it wasn`t broke,why did we fix it!!!We had some of the best water around until some lame dumbasses fixed a good thing ,now all this shit is happening!!DUMBASSES
right wing 12/11/2013 7:27:59 PM Report


Read the provincial legislation on lead leaching and chemical choices for municipal water.
right wing 12/11/2013 7:29:21 PM Report

Yes some of the best water around...16 tonnes more ammonia and 30% more chlorine...shit is great in a sandwich as long as you can't smell it!
irishfey 12/11/2013 7:29:54 PM Report

Jimssm.. nice to see you care for other people, but hey, as long as your doing ok , right?
Boomer4771 12/11/2013 7:35:29 PM Report

ANYONE who thinks that having coloured water coming out of your house taps is ok is totally STUPID. I for one will not drink or cook with it no matter what idiot states it is safe. We pay for a service from PUC and we are and haven't received this service for over two years. Go back to what we had where I enjoyed drinking the water supplied to me that I paid for. SCREW OFF SAM C and anyone else that continually backs the wrong doings of PUC. We want what we PAY GOOD MONEY for and that is clear drinkable water.
right wing 12/11/2013 7:38:21 PM Report


I will state the same to you as I have to others.
How often does brown water come out of your tap.
Daily, once weekly, once every month....
If it is daily or weekly I will come and test it for charge.
Gurpy 12/11/2013 7:58:37 PM Report

Sam C
The water can`t be all that safe considering I suffered from severe stomach issues and skin irritations.I`d shower and be COVERED in welts back when the water was first changed. I won`t drink tap water. I`ve been on Brita for some time.The skin problems aren`t as frequent, but they do still occur. I don`t for a moment believe that brown water is safe and never will! Goodness! What will it be next?
right wing 12/11/2013 8:21:11 PM Report

Baking soda in filter form.
I hope you change your brita filter often cause if you don't it is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Another unregulated product on the market.
right wing 12/11/2013 8:24:28 PM Report


So you are saying that prior to the change over you had no reaction to the ammonia and increased chlorine levels in the water but now you do.
So you have never been in a public swimming pool, whirlpool or hot tub.
Cause I can tell you they have ten times the chemical in them as our municipal water.
Jimssm 12/11/2013 8:28:01 PM Report


no... I DON'T CARE about people who complain about spending 10 cents worth of water flushing out their water lines and then expect their fellow taxpayers to put $1000 filtration systems into their homes.

Where were all these complainers when Mark was protesting in front of the PUC BY HIMSELF ????

Mark Brown lost respect from me when he stated that although he is pushing for a class action lawsuit against the PUC, he won't himself be part of it..... pitiful.

First world problems... just a bunch of spoiled whiners. Not one of them willing to commit themselves to anything more than 5 minutes on the computer keyboard.

HowAbooutSomeLogic 12/11/2013 8:50:10 PM Report

....if they had committed to any keyboard time they'd realize the water was no safer before (it just looked safer)

rightwing, I'm with you on MB sounding ignorant in regards to the system the PUC has in place but are you as well? You can't have chlorine without the tri-halo-methanes...they're indirectly added by the addition of the chlorine.

Anyway, it's important to realize when you take a shower, particularly a hot one, the solubility of the dissolved gases in the water, especially the chlorine, goes way down (high school chemistry); they evaporate and you breath them in.

Yay for chlorine baths!

PUC isn't the problem as much as your 100yr old pipes and your "elected" "representatives" deciding what is best for you.
johnnyc 12/11/2013 9:09:36 PM Report

I empathize with everyone's concerns, and I believe it is correct to state the PUC is responsible for delivering clean water. I am sure they don't enjoy receiving hundreds of calls each time this happens, so I am going to side with honesty, and believe they are truly working on a resolution.

Another thought comes to mind...imagine how those living on reservations who haven't had clean, safe water - EVER feel...

Please take a moment to think about how we feel when this happens at home...and perhaps we could all put pressure on the governments to ensure that resolutions are sought for all those in Canada who have had to deal with such disregard for health and well-being for centuries.

right wing 12/11/2013 9:10:15 PM Report


Yes I stated that.
Trihalomethanes are regularly monitored to ensure they are within safe levels.
I did work in Blind River last year as they went on an alert due to high levels.
I am a member of the Walkerton Clean Water Agency and teach water purification/filtration.
I have done consulting with environmental engineers and worked with just about every type of engineer out there.
I design and install a variety of water systems to treat every type of water condition you can name.
They have been subject to inspection by Ontario water inspectors.
I am far from ignorant on the subject.
HowAbooutSomeLogic 12/11/2013 10:18:59 PM Report

Just because some bureaucrats decide on a totally subjective level of "safeness" doesn't make water that falls below the threshold so...

...sounds like you know that most of them are carcinogenic, ie., there is so safe limit.

HowAbooutSomeLogic 12/11/2013 10:20:50 PM Report

Kind of like how Japan keeps raising the level of "safeness" of radioactive isotopes found in their foods so they can keep selling and exporting them...
HowAbooutSomeLogic 12/11/2013 10:23:26 PM Report

Which, leads me to ask myself, does the PUC test for "safe" levels of any radioactive isotopes?

Do you know by chance?

HowAbooutSomeLogic 12/11/2013 10:33:51 PM Report

From what I can tell they do not.

Pretty shocking some of the toxic heavy metals they don't test for, too.
Norm 12/11/2013 10:45:33 PM Report

RW and SamC are actually both left wing. The city and the PUC are as one. Good for Mark Brown for standing up to both of these giants who are feared by the ordinary citizen.
Mark Brown 12/12/2013 7:42:08 AM Report

Dear President Parrella,

With all due respect, by not passing a resolution to immediately fix the DAILY undrinkable water of only some PUC customers after over two years of them waiting patiently for a fix, the Board of Directors has indeed made a decision.

They have decided to let that large minority of customers who get DAILY undrinkable water continue to pay out of their own pockets for drinkable water the PUC should be giving them like it gives all of its other customers on a daily basis.

Sincerely and Respectfully,
Mark Brown
sinikka 12/12/2013 8:01:06 AM Report

Mark Brown does nothing to rectify the problem. Stirring the pot just muddies the water per se. Who made Mark Brown the spokesperson for those affected by brown water when he himself has had good water. Little early to be canvassing for political office mr. brown. Same Mark Brown that stirred the chit with the avery subdivision. Allowing his name to be associated with any cause really undermines the real issue . Good luck to those that are experiencing water problems but i would recommend that you give the puc till january before you accept advice from mark brown.
Gurpy 12/12/2013 8:24:45 AM Report

Right Wing
That`s exactly what I am saying and no, I do not go to pools etc.
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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.
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