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PUC urged to make goodwill gesture to customers

Tuesday, April 08, 2014   by: Darren Taylor

City council passed a resolution Monday urging the Sault Ste. Marie PUC to show “a gesture of goodwill” to its customers who have been plagued with brown water incidents.

The original wording of the resolution, written by Ward 1 city Councillors Steve Butland and Paul Christian, called on the PUC to provide reimbursement to affected residents (mainly in the city’s east end).

At Monday’s council meeting however, Butland said the call for reimbursement was “impractical.”

 "We don’t know how well it (reimbursement) could be accurately and fairly managed," Christian told

While the PUC works on its Preferred Strategy for Water Quality Improvement to rectify the taste, odour and colour of the community’s tap water, Butland and Christian suggested ways the utility company could make a bad situation better.

Christian said the PUC should keep its customers better informed on the progress of its Water Quality Improvement Plan through regular mail updates, including advance notice of when the Lorna Wells (identified as a main cause of the brown water incidents) would be activated.

Butland said PUC crews, while out in their trucks, could deliver products such as detergents or toilet bowl cleaners to customers affected by brown water incidents. 

The last major brown water incident in the east end happened March 1, when the Lorna Wells were activated to address a water shortage caused by a water main break in the Pim and Bruce Street area.

Frustrated customers were not able to reach PUC customer service representatives by telephone, similar to an earlier widespread brown water incident in the east end November 20.

“Two years ago I brought this up about the PUC getting more people to answer calls…I’m hoping they will,” Butland said.

The need for more customer service representatives is “something they (the PUC) need to work towards,” Christian said.

Butland and Christian met with PUC President and CEO Dominic Parrella on Friday.

“I think the PUC is fully aware of how we feel about it and I think they understand this time,” Christian said.

Butland told council the brown water incidents are “no longer an inconvenience…it’s an impact on quality of life.”

East-end residents have suffered through several incidents in the past two years, in which brown water has shown up in their toilets, sinks, tubs and laundry machines.

The PUC says the brown water incidents are due to several reasons, including the introduction of free chlorine into the water supply in 2011, unidirectional flushing, start-up of the Lorna Wells, water main breaks, hydrant flushing, construction, and illegal use of fire hydrants.

In February, the PUC Board of Directors approved a Preferred Strategy for Water Quality Improvement for Sault Ste. Marie’s water supply.

The two-stage strategy will begin in May and could run though to 2017. 

To read about the strategy, click here.

Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
lonza 4/8/2014 12:18:05 PM Report

How about the fact that I had to replace 2 flush valves in my toilet, replace filters in my fridge every month at $50 a shot where it should last 6 months, shower head almost plugged solid. I don't have the brown water, but I am experiencing a whole host of other issues. My dog will not drink the water out of the tap!!!! I am just waiting to see what is going to happen to my washer, and dishwasher.
I get really itchy getting out of the shower, almost to the point that I am drawing blood.
I have not had any of these issues until they made this change. I have been here for 12 years. So far this has cost me a bundle.
bulletcards 4/8/2014 12:20:36 PM Report

surpised there's not 100+ comments. maybe we are all getting tired of complaining about this legalized criminal organisation?
ThinkAgain 4/8/2014 12:26:28 PM Report

Anyone surprised, look at the Sunshine Club list.
Joe gave himself a 4.5% raise.
See where the taxpayer money goes, down the drain
It could take up-to 3 years, haha
Whats your property value worth now? lol
rocketman 4/8/2014 12:29:34 PM Report

well i think the more butland talks . the more he shouldnt,.
Truck 4/8/2014 12:33:32 PM Report

The time for a "gesture of goodwill" has come and gone! Should have been done as soon as their customers were affected negatively. Like any other business who values its customers would have done!
mikematt56 4/8/2014 12:39:16 PM Report

P U C - Pure Unadulterated Crap
Jmann! 4/8/2014 12:42:47 PM Report

PUC = Perfect Unidentified Crooks!
Mr. Poster 4/8/2014 12:43:59 PM Report

Time for big change in ward reps come this election. We need people that work for us...not JOE....NOT THE PUC...
Lots of talk and no action. What next...a new city hall?
IgnorantNortherner 4/8/2014 12:44:55 PM Report

They don't value your 'business', though, Truck.

They value you as a slave.

If you pay your PUC bills and taxes that support this very obvious and ongoing theft and coercion I don't think you're much better than they are.

Plus, someone show me where science deems it a good idea to drink chlorine and take chlorine gas showers everyday as the PUC claims it is perfectly safe to do.
mikematt56 4/8/2014 12:48:09 PM Report

PUC = Purely Unfiltered Chlorine - I want my $ back...
derek 4/8/2014 12:57:49 PM Report

All you whiners never go to meetings and complain where it matters.

For what you pay for city taxes your streets should be paved in gold.

These city employees and councilors work for you Joe tax payer.

Not the other way around.

You have to right to voice your opinion as you pay taxes.

chatterbox 4/8/2014 1:05:09 PM Report

Let me begin by saying I mean no disrespect.

Usually, when a company has 40,000 customers (I'm not sure exactly how many they have, but I'd imagine it's a minimum of 40k), they have a customer service department, headed by a person with some experience and knowledge in customer service....Or they contract the service out to experts. The head of the customer service department (as well as with most departments at PUC) is an Engineer who rose through the ranks at the PUC. Again, no disrespect, but Engineers aren't necessarily noted for their customer service skills. I'll leave it at that.
haywire 4/8/2014 1:06:08 PM Report

out of all my bills the puc bill is the highest and what they provide as service is not worth it the water sucks and my power consumption is lower and my bill is higher it don't make scene use less power and the bill is almost double they are crocks something has to be done we need to get another company to provide power to us so there would be some kind of competition against puc and get lower prices it would be nice maby people could afford to eat and pay other bills
Ski-Dude 4/8/2014 1:14:54 PM Report

You may have the same consumption....check your time of use....
Just Curious 4/8/2014 1:15:32 PM Report

Steve Butland,,,the Soo's version of Sarah Palin..only she's way better looking...:).
Just Curious 4/8/2014 1:23:36 PM Report

haywire, there are a couple of alternate companies you can deal with but they wind up way more expensive in the end. We actually get a pretty good deal up here...

And lonza, if you can afford a fridge that requires water filters, quit bitching about 4 dollar flapper valves in your toilet tank. They actually have no bearing on the color of the water in the tank..Damn, some people just like to complain..:).
FunMan 4/8/2014 1:29:52 PM Report

Gee, there must be a Municipal election coming up soon as Councillors are pretending to care!!!
Brianne 4/8/2014 1:33:34 PM Report

Goodwill ? Goodwill? really? Now the PUC is trying to make themselves look "good" with a GOODWILL gesture. They should be more than compensating for this crap water these people have had to tolerate for how long now ?These people shouldn't have to be paying for "water" at all....... ever, until they get the "problem" fixed.

This is not a GOODWILL gesture, it's plain common sense to reimburse these people for all the trouble, stress, etc.

Quit trying to redeem yourself PUC
ThinkAgain 4/8/2014 1:41:16 PM Report

I wish I was a plumber - I can see alot of pipes need changing down the road.

Time to buy stocks at Leons & the Brick high demand for washers/dishwashers.

What a way to boost the economy
justsomeguy 4/8/2014 2:35:36 PM Report

@Just Curious:
"We actually get a pretty good deal up here..."

You've got to be kidding. My relatives live down south - their water tastes far better, they don't have issues with mineral build-up and their rates are lower.

Yes, the workers are quick to respond, faster response than other places I've lived, but that's where it ends.

Thunder Bay changed their water several years ago when I lived there - they have issues for a few months, then they called in some experts who helped them fix the issue permanently.

The Soo is a decent place to live & raise a family, but there's pretty much where it ends now. The Soo has been on a sterady decline now since the 70's.

The majority of people's attitudes are:
1. If you don't like it, leave.
2. There are worse places to live.

Under that logic - no wonder improvement is so slow or nonexistant.

Maybe the slogan should be changed from "Naturally Gifted" to "Hey, we're happy with mediocre and you should be too".

The only reason I'm still here - family and the outdoors.
Berty 4/8/2014 3:04:51 PM Report

He hit the nail on the head. Lots of talk and no action. I remember that guy that went to the PUC building to protest on behalf of the people with brown water and only he showed up...he was supporting you and no one stood by him. If I had brown water, I wouldn't just sit and do nothing...we voted these councilors in to work for us...if they aren't working for us, its time to clean city hall house!
Pakadeva 4/8/2014 3:12:36 PM Report

I think PUC should give this whole city consideration & do something real, that will improve all our lives. I live on the west end & my water is brown off & on as well, & tastes like, well, maybe like sewer!! One customer mentioned that even their DOG wouldn't drink it!
It costs a lot of money to buy drinking water for your entire family, including the animals. Have a mass drop off of nice bottled water at every home in the city...a treat!
FirstChairLastCall 4/8/2014 4:15:23 PM Report

I've had sensitive skin all my life but knowing that I've taken good care of myself. This water(east end by golf course) has destroyed my skin. It's red and blotchy with dry patches. It itches constantly. I have to use skin cream 5 or more times a day on my arms and face.

When someone showers, the entire main floor stinks of chlorine. If you closed your eyes you'd assume you were at the john Rhodes pool. It's awful. I'm thankful today I could open all the windows and air it out.

The brown sediment has caused problems with my hot water tank, washer and dishwasher. Not To mention my shower head clogging constantly and the filters on all my taps as well.

All of this together also means it's undrinkable. I've barely posted about these problems but this article has pushed me over the edge. I WANT A MASSIVE CREDIT ON MY PUC BILL. That is the only goodwill that will do any good for any of us.

Question, for. Anyone. Does the Better Business Bureau handle companies like the puc? Curious what options are available to us to hold them accountable.
Big Deal 4/8/2014 5:03:28 PM Report

PUC, along with all the other criminals, including city hall, insurance companies, the government are SO FAR out of control it makes me SICK to my stomach. They are all the biggest legalized street gang I've ever seen in my life!!! When are the people of Sault Ste. Marie and the North going to stand up and say...ENOUGH IS ENOUGH???
right wing 4/8/2014 5:05:40 PM Report


Have you consulted a Dr. regarding your skin condition.

I will offer to you the same that I have offered to others making similar claims.
I do not work for the PUC.
I would be willing do testing on your water on a weekly basis at absolutely no cost to you.
I have the expertise and the equipment.
If you are interested simply give me a means of contacting you.
right wing 4/8/2014 5:07:58 PM Report


"You've got to be kidding. My relatives live down south - their water tastes far better, they don't have issues with mineral build-up and their rates are lower."

Could you please post exactly where it is that your relatives live.
David Poluck 4/8/2014 5:59:12 PM Report

All PUC board meetings are now open to attend.
Find out when they happen and attend.
Report to out to others what happens at a meeting and find ways to participate within the system.
Don't forget the PUC is owned by us.
Take an interest in what is happening.. be part of the solution.
Sammy1099 4/8/2014 6:03:54 PM Report

Never mind the brown water why do they still have to truck away the shit from the new “state of the art plant”. Why do they have to do this?

What is the point of paying for a new treatment plant if it doesn’t treat? When I take my boat on the river I see no turds in the river until I get past the treatment plant. Coincidence?

Did the city engineers in charge of specifying a plant and putting it out for tender get bamboozled by some big city folk? Or is it just that no-one working there knows how to operate the fancy new equipment?

I recall Walkerton had a couple of grade 8 drop-outs running there treatment plant, is that the case here? I think in Walkerton they were the nephews or something of a big-shot city employee or something along those lines. Mind you degrees really don’t count for much these days. I’ve known plenty of engineers I wouldn’t let screw in a light bulb.
rgp 4/8/2014 6:47:15 PM Report

ihave brown water i dont come on here and cry like a baby it is what it is
rockbanger 4/8/2014 6:48:04 PM Report

PUC should be put in prison for this mess-up.

We in Sault Ste. Marie have lost our right to brag about how good our water quality was??

I read all the articles about the chemicals used to clean the existing pipes? Nonsense.

You have messed up a great water supply. Now what?

Apologies will never replace the clean water we had.

toady 4/8/2014 7:14:55 PM Report

who do you think the puc is. it you and I. if they compensate anyone we all pay for it . it is a non profit company owned by the people of sault ste. marie. your rates will go up as a result. need a better manager to eliminate the problem. find someone with some good problem solving skills and get rid of present management.
FirstChairLastCall 4/8/2014 7:55:09 PM Report

rightwing - Of course I have consulted my physician. She confirmed what I already knew, highly chlorinated water is drying to the skin and if already battling eczema, (or most other skin conditions) it will be highly irritating and problematic. Point being, I didn't have any issues prior to the switch. I do now. Big time. I'm not happy.

As for your offer to test my water... tell me what I need to do and I'll do it myself and post the results for you. Not really in to strangers in my home... from the internet.

I'm not here to protest. I wanted to add my story to the others sharing theirs. That's. It.
shju 4/8/2014 8:36:09 PM Report

There is less chlorine now then before. There is also no ammonia in the water. wow you people love to complain about nothing.
shju 4/8/2014 8:38:58 PM Report

I have seen a total of 2 people with brown water that actually shown pictures of the water. I could make my water brown my shutting off my water to my house for a couple hours. And anyone saying its causing medical illness to this is a total crock of bull. I once heard that buying a new tv will give you headaches. lololololol

please put back on the tin foil hats.
Spock would be so upset with you people.
wandering 4/8/2014 10:06:52 PM Report

water is brown taste like hell
puc bill over 450 each month
is this all normal
come on think with your head
rosie66 4/8/2014 11:25:51 PM Report

I have to admit the water does taste like (excuse my language) shit; ever since moving to this end of town, we've had to buy our water or go fill up water jugs at friends houses, just to have a decent glass of H2O --- now that's pretty bad; and yes I do agree with PUC having to reimberse customers for brown water, look what's it's done to our clothes, our appliances don't even like it - let alone our dogs.
young guy 4/8/2014 11:29:06 PM Report

Cmon people,

They told us the rust from the pipes is perfectly acceptable to drink. Lol..

Anyway, Did any of you people even consider purchasing a Brita water filter, or one of those mineral alkalanizing water filters? I use Brita all the time. I take the water from the tap and it tastes fine. And I live in the east end. I have only saw brown water once. And yeah it's gross. I wouldn't drink that rust either. It can't be good for you!
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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