Filters to help restore water colour
Foothills: Elevated manganese levels do not pose health risk
Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 04:13 pm
Pink water at a handful of public facilities has caught the attention of Foothills residents and sprung the MD into action.
Jeff Edgington, MD supervisor of infrastructure and public works, said there has been an excess of manganese in the area water system at Heritage Heights since the school was built in 2006. When the Scott Seaman Arena opened next door in 2013, the issue resurfaced, he said.
“When we built the arena there was some notice that the ice was a little pinkish at times,” said Edgington. “It’s only a seasonal thing. It shows up once in a while, like when the schools start up first thing in the fall, because there’s a manganese build-up in the pipes that oxidizes over time, over the summer.”
When St. Francis of Assisi Academy opened its doors in 2016, water ran pink once again, he said.
Though it changes the look of the water, manganese doesn’t pose a health risk, he said.
“It’s totally not harmful to human beings,” said Edgington. “It’s in quantities in most of the water you drink.”
Dr. Jason Cabaj, from Alberta Health Services, said people are exposed to manganese through their diets in higher quantities than in water.
A naturally-occurring metal, manganese is important to human health, essential for development and metabolism, he said.
“If there is turbidity or discolouration of water, people notice that and report different colours, like brown or in some cases it looks pink or red,” said Cabaj.
He said AHS is monitoring the situation and conducting tests to ensure there is no health risk.
“Generally with these turbidity events we would say there is no health risk associated with manganese,” said Cabaj. “I think in this case we’re still waiting on the chemical testing, for that to be repeated and to understand there has been a historical elevation of manganese.”
He said testing will help rule out other potential causes for the change in water colour. If it’s a matter of high manganese levels only, he said flushing it out usually resolves the issue quickly.
“Our inspectors have been on-site doing inspections, and they haven’t identified any concerns with the water,” said Cabaj. “We haven’t received any public complaints at Alberta Health Services regarding the discoloured water at those facilities.”
Edgington said the MD is installing green sand filters in its water system at the site, which will resolve the issue and make the water appear cleaner.
“The water passes through it, and it removes a portion of the manganese,” said Edgington.