The occurrence of brown water running through the taps of Winnipeg homes and workplaces has created a lot of business for Chad McMillan.
McMillan is one of the owners of St. James-based Total Water Cleaners (2571 Portage Ave.). Total Water Cleaners provides customers with a whole home water cleaner, which is a device that provides the entire home with filtered water. McMillan says sometimes people buy filters, but people commonly rent them. Customers can rent filters for about $30 per month. The lifespan of a filter is typically between four to six years.
The water cleaner is a 44-inch tall cylinder filter that gets rid of 90 to 95% of chemicals and pollutants from the water.
"The nice thing about our filter is there’s no maintenance. You put it in your basement and you forget about it. And you get water from every tap," McMillan said.
"Many people are renting water coolers, but basically all that’s giving you is drinking water. Our system filters everything – bath water, cooking water, drinking water."
Charleswood resident Bob Cavanaugh and his family have not experienced brown water, but he wanted to make sure that it never enters his home.
"It just made sense," Cavanaugh said about his decision to get the water cleaner installed.
But Choo Rosenbloom and her husband were not as lucky as Cavanaugh. The Linden Woods couple experienced brown water for the past couple of months. They have been purchasing bottled water, but bringing it home has been hard on them.
"I’m suffering from wrist tendonitis and it caused my wrist to hurt again. And my husband is very ill and carrying this stuff is very hard for him," Rosenbloom said.
Brown water started to show up in many Winnipeg bathrooms and kitchens this past summer. The initial reason for its sudden appearance was that discoloured water can be expected during peak water use times, such as during heat waves.
Dr. Eva Pip, water quality scientist at the University of Winnipeg, said this bout of brown water is the worst she’s ever seen.
Pip has looked at 150 samples of brown water since this spring, and thinks that a possible reason for the discolouration could be due to the city’s infrastructure.
"We have infrastructure that is very old, and all of this is disrupting flows in the system," Pip said. "Sediment gets stirred up and that appears unpredictably in the tap water."
Pip said two things were found in the samples of brown water: iron and manganese. According to Canada’s water guidelines, iron and manganese’s effects are aesthetic only, meaning they mainly affect the appearance of the water. However, there are negative outcomes from consuming and using the discoloured water.
"The rust is causing most of the brownness. It can irritate your intestines and cause mild diarrhea. It’s not a disease, but it’s an inconvenience," Pip explained. "And the manganese can be a problem for children if you consume it on an ongoing basis."
Pip recommends the installation of a water filtration system because the problem isn’t expected to go away any time soon.
"If it was just a localized thing, it would be easier, but because it’s so widespread, that makes it very hard," Pip said.
For more information about Total Water Cleaners, visit totalwatercleaners.com or call 204-295-7388.