Water Quality Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. We do more than 10,000 water tests annually to ensure delivery of safe water.
Soft (<10 ppm calcium carbonate). *Residents in the Sumas Prairie or south of Highway 1 may occasionally receive moderately hard water when the wells are operating.
No. We do not add fluoride to the water and natural background levels are negligible.
Chlorine and ammonia are added to create chloramines for disinfection; soda ash is added to raise pH. Chloramines are used because they provide longer-lasting water treatment than free chlorine as the water moves through pipes to consumers. This type of disinfection is known as secondary disinfection. Chloramines have been used by water utilities for almost 90 years and their use is closely regulated.
There are three sources:
- 85% of water comes from Norrish Creek (NE of Mission);
- 10% from Cannell Lake (N of Mission);
- 5% from wells in south Abbotsford.
Taste and smell is personal preference. The water provided meets all health guidelines and is safe to drink. If you do not like the taste or smell, many people find that chilling water before drinking it often improves its taste or odour. Alternately activated carbon filters are usually the best solution for removing objectionable taste/odours (e.g. water filtration system).
Pink residues are generally not a problem with water quality. They are more likely a result of airborne bacteria which produce a pinkish film on regularly moist surfaces (such as toilet bowls and shower enclosures). The bacteria are not considered a health concern. Also, their presence has nothing to do with how clean you keep your home. Outdoor activities such as recent construction, can stir up the bacteria from the surrounding environment and then persist within your home. The best way to manage the pink stains is to clean surfaces frequently with chlorine-containing cleaners (e.g. bleach).
Most often, white/greyish flakes source from your hot water tank. As hot water tanks age, their components start to break down. In particular, plastic ‘dip tubes’ will start to flake apart and ‘sacrificial anodes’ will degrade. If you find flakes in your tap water, try flushing your hot water heater or call a plumber to investigate.
The amount of lead in our distribution system is very low, well below the Canadian Health guidelines for drinking water. However, household plumbing systems built before 1989 may have lead based solder and brass faucets that can leach lead when water sits stagnant. If a tap has not been used for six or more hours, let it run until the water is cold before using it for drinking or cooking purposes. To avoid water wastage, use the initially flushed water on your plants.
Most often, cloudy water is caused by air bubbles. The air is naturally dissolved in the water as it travels to you in pipes under pressure. When you open your tap, releasing the pressure, the air escapes from the water. You can confirm that cloudiness it is indeed air by filling a glass with the water and waiting a bit. After some seconds or minutes, the water should clear, starting from the bottom to the top as shown in the picture below. Air in water is completely harmless.Image
Rashes that occur after bathing or showering may be caused by an allergic reaction to soap, shampoo, bubble bath or any other product. Showering and bathing may also dry out the skin, especially in the dry winter months. Water, especially warm water, can remove natural oils from our skin and leave it feeling dried out, leading to rashes in some individuals. Concerns regarding dry skin and rashes require a medical diagnosis and are best addressed by your physician.
The water at the Mill Lake Spray Park is tested monthly for total coliforms and e-coli to ensure it is safe. For the most recent testing, there was no e-coli found, or total coliform hits.
Sometimes in the fall the water can have a yellow-brown tinge. This is due to tannins and lignin in the water at Norrish Creek. These are formed when plant material (leaves, etc.) is slowly broken down by organisms into very small particles that are dissolved into water. Filtration cannot remove the dissolved tannin and lignin, but the water is safe to drink.
Water samples are taken at distribution points throughout Abbotsford and Mission on a weekly basis, to ensure water quality is maintained.
*Photo below of water with a yellow tinge due to tannins and lignin.Image