Youssef Khattab

Youssef Khattab

Quick fix for White Rock’s brown water

Discolouration of water noticed by residents and businesses last week was traced to a contractor error

White Rock water operations staff believe they have identified the cause of discoloured water coming out of city taps from around noon until late afternoon last Thursday.

According to the city’s website, the problem was traced to a contractor working on behalf of the city at the Merklin reservoir who had gone against testing procedures and opened a valve to run some tests without consulting operations staff.

“It is believed that this unauthorized act by the contractor caused what is known as a ‘water hammering’ effect,” an update, posted late Friday morning, said.

“This disturbance led to water discoloration in parts of the city.”

Contacted about the issue Thursday, city communications manager Farnaz Farrokhi declined to comment directly, referring Peace Arch News to the city website instead.

Though the website, the city apologized Friday for any inconvenience the incident caused and said procedures will be reviewed with the contractor to ensure that it does not happen again.

It also said staff will continue to follow up with residents who had called to complain, and would continue to flush affected areas until the issue was fully resolved.

Among those who called the city with concerns was Youssef Khattab, owner of the King Koin Laundromat on Johnston Road.

“I was working with one of the machines when I noticed the water was coming in brown,” he said Friday.

“I thought at first it was something wrong with the machine, but then I noticed the same thing was happening with other machines, and when I flushed the toilet, the water was (discoloured) there, too.”

Khattab said he was prompted to call the engineering department, because he remembers having to deal with discoloured water following the Five Corners fire last May.

“Last year, it was a week to 10 days before it was cleared up,” he said.

Fortunately, this year the issue was resolved quickly, he said.

“They said their engineers were working on it. By about 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., the water was clear again, and this morning it was completely clear – I was surprised when two city staff members arrived to test the water.”

In a post on the city website Thursday afternoon, city staff said they had found there had been a sudden change in water pressure between 12:14 and 12:17 p.m., suggesting that a hydrant or other valve had been opened and closed abruptly, with a resulting impact on “parts of the city water system.”