Tap water safe to drink after ‘chemical’ taste reported in east-end Toronto: officials

Click to play video: 'Toronto officials say tap water is safe despite foul odours and taste of chlorine'
Toronto officials say tap water is safe despite foul odours and taste of chlorine
WATCH ABOVE: Residents in east Toronto neighbourhoods reported chemical-like tastes and smells coming from the water taps in their homes, but the City of Toronto says there was nothing dangerous in the tap water. Mark McAllister reports – Dec 2, 2016

City officials are advising residents in east-end Toronto that their tap water is safe to drink after a number of residents complained of a chemical taste Thursday night.

“There are no issues with the safety of the drinking water. In some parts of the east end, there was a slight increase in chlorine levels but tests have shown the water is safe and the levels are within MOECC regulatory ranges,” city spokeswoman Jackie DeSouza said in a statement on Friday.

DeSouza said crews are continuing to monitor the water supply and have put a message on 311 for people who are calling to inquire.

READ MORE: Unsafe levels of lead in Toronto tap water: report

City officials said the strange odour and taste were attributed to system upgrades at the R.C. Harris Treatment Plant.

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“As part of the normal water treatment process, Toronto Water uses aluminum sulphate (alum).  The alum generated a gas called hydrogen sulphide (H2S) that resembles the smell of boiled eggs,” Toronto Water said in a media release.

“This gas entered into some of the treated drinking water when the basin was put back into operation. Toronto Water has taken the settling basin out of operation this morning and the taste and odour will dissipate by the end of today.”

Resident Ely Lyonblum said he and his family noticed something was “a little off” at around 9 p.m.

“We could taste something that was maybe a little salty or there was a bit of chlorine or something like that and we immediately looked online,” he said, adding he went online to check east-end community Facebook groups that he is apart of and found other families were talking about the water quality.

“All of the parent groups were chiming in with, ‘Something’s off with the water. We’ll call 311.'”

Complaints about the chemical-tasting water began to flood Toronto’s 311 Twitter account throughout the evening as residents noticed the water smelling like chlorine.

“Within half an hour or 45 minutes, there were a lot of people who had reached 311 and it said either, ‘Don’t drink the water’ or, ‘Just take caution and we’ll let you know more as soon as we can,'” Lyonblum said.

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“There was a bit of uncertainly so we did something that we hate to do. We had a little bit of bottled water and we used that sparingly.”

In addition to east-end Toronto, reports of the bad taste and smell of the tap water have also come from the Bloor Street West and Bathurst Street area, as well as near Church and Isabella streets.

According to the city’s website, chlorine and aluminum are two chemicals regularly used in the water treatment process.

“Before the water is pumped into homes, sulphur dioxide is added to reduce the level of chlorine to 0.9 milligrams per litre,” the city said.

Meanwhile, aluminum sulphate is used to remove harmful micro-organisms and particles by making them clump together into larger particles so they can be filtered out of the water supply.

Mark McAllister and Nick Westoll contributed to this report.


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