December 6, 2018 1:03 pm
Updated: December 7, 2018 4:18 pm

City of Saskatoon sues 2 companies over Aspen Ridge water contamination

WATCH ABOVE: The lawsuit alleges an oil-like substance in fire hydrants contaminated water in Saskatoon’s Aspen Ridge neighbourhood.

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Editor’s note: Wolseley Canada responded to a Global News request for comment one day after the original story was published. Their reply is included in the updated version of this story.

The City of Saskatoon has suffered more than $1 million in losses and damages due to water contamination in the Aspen Ridge neighbourhood, a lawsuit alleges.

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From Jan. 10 to Sept. 14, a “do not use” water advisory was in effect for 19 addresses in the Aspen Ridge subdivision. A black, petroleum-based substance, known as hydrocarbons, surfaced in fire hydrants in the area in December 2016.

READ MORE: Water restrictions lifted for Aspen Ridge homes

A statement of claim filed Nov. 23 at Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench names Atlanta-based Mueller Water Products Inc. and Burlington, Ont.-based Wolseley Canada Inc. as defendants.

Mueller constructed the hydrants, which were delivered by Wolseley to the work site around spring 2014, according to the document delivered by the office of the city solicitor.

Hydrocarbons appeared in nine out of the 12 Mueller hydrants installed in Phase 2 of Aspen Ridge, which was physically isolated from Phase 1, according to the suit. At the time, people were only living in the initial phase.

The source of the hydrocarbons remained a mystery for months, forcing Aspen Ridge construction to cease for the winter before resuming in spring.

As the city investigated the source, residents in Aspen Ridge were required to use bottled water, water trucks, and temporary water lines.

In addition to hydrants, the contamination spread to the lead line from the water main and in some cases, hydrocarbons were found in the main water lines, according to the city.

“The City says that Mueller and/or Wolseley knew, or ought to have known, about the potential for the contamination substance to form in Mueller hydrants, and failed to warn the City of this dangerous condition,” the statement reads.

READ MORE: Source of mystery contaminant unknown as Rosewood water advisory lifted

The city contends the companies should have known the hydrants would be connected to its potable water system.

The filing also states Mueller didn’t warn anyone of the potential contamination risk, “and failed to provide any information, procedures, or techniques that could minimize the risk.”

“The full extent of contaminated Mueller hydrants within the City of Saskatoon is not yet known,” according to the document.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. Mueller Water Products didn’t respond to a request for an interview Dec. 6.

On Dec. 7, Deborah Roberts, communications manager for Wolseley Canada, stated the company is aware of the claim but hadn’t been formally served.

Wolseley doesn’t comment on matters before the court or matters involving pending litigation, she said.

From the day they were served, the companies have 30 days to file a response with the court.

The city’s losses and damages are said to include the following:

  • Costs of inspecting the water system;
  • Cleaning up the contamination;
  • Setting up temporary water lines;
  • Providing water;
  • Retaining experts to investigate the source of the contamination; and
  • Identifying the substances.

Other damages are expected to be incurred prior to trial, according the claim.

READ MORE: Stantec Consulting recommended to remediate contaminated water lines

After the hydrocarbons surfaced, Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency required the city to inspect nearby hydrants and either remove and replace the affected infrastructure or bring in an engineering consultant.

Stantec Consulting was hired by the city for a preliminary investigation and remediation plan, ultimately finding the Aspen Ridge water supply met Canadian drinking water standards.

In May, a “do not use” order was issued in Saskatoon’s Rosewood area after contaminated Mueller fire hydrants were discovered.

The advisory resulted in temporary water lines being installed at the neighbourhood Costco. The city lifted the notice in August.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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