A South Surrey man is wondering just what’s in the city’s water, after a filter he installed to catch possible contaminants turned from white to brown within two months.
“The stuff in that filter looked absolutely disgusting… like a brown slime,” Carmelo De Seta said. “I don’t know that this stuff is really bad for you. I just know it doesn’t look good.”
However, City of Surrey officials say the water supply is safe, and that whatever is plaguing De Seta’s supply isn’t an issue with the city’s system.
De Seta, who has lived in the same house since 1983, said he began using a carbon filter about five years ago, to get rid of the chlorine taste in his drinking water.
He added a filter “for dirt” after reading HealthLinkBC information regarding filters that was included in Surrey’s 2014 Water System Annual Report.
It notes the need to use “a system labelled as ‘Absolute’ 1 micron or smaller… for removal for parasites,” and that the filters are “not suitable for removing bacteria and viruses.”
“I was scared when I read the water-supply report,” De Seta said.
“It would be nice if Surrey supplied water that we didn’t have to worry about.”
Yonatan Yohannes, the city’s manager of water operations, said last week that De Seta’s call is the only one that’s been logged for the area. It was investigated and there were no anomalies, he said.
“We can assure that, on the city side, everything is within regulation,” Yohannes said last week.
He said tests conducted at a sampling station located “literally right beside (De Seta’s) house” were normal. The stations – there are more than 50 across the city – are checked regularly for bacteriological activity, chlorine residue and metals, he said.
“We checked the numbers for turbidity and chlorine. The numbers were consistent with what we usually get.”
Yohannes said Fraser Health officials were also “not concerned.”
In a Feb. 3 email De Seta received from Fraser Health environmental health officer Lloyd Struck in response to his concerns, Struck notes the filter appears to be picking up “bio-film growth,” and that the reference to parasites in the city’s water report “is a holdover from those times when we did not have effective parasite controls.”
Struck also notes that as De Seta is in South Surrey, his home is “likely serviced from a water main that stores water for longer than normal,” a practice that allows the growth of non-harmful microbes.
Tests, he adds, “have not shown any problems with either total coliforms or E.coli; meaning the water is safe to drink.”
At the same time, he suggests De Seta file a complaint with the city and “see if they can help reduce the amount of debris you find in your filters.”
Yohannes said investigating a home’s internal systems is a task for a private company.
He noted reports from residents concerned with the city’s water are “very, very rare,” but always taken seriously.
“More than often, it’s an internal issue,” he said. “We go to the site and look (at) our fire hydrants and take samples just to make sure.”
De Seta said he is not convinced his pipes are the issue, nor is he wanting to accuse the city of anything.
“I’m just asking the question,” he said.
“If there’s something they could do to cut back on that build-up… why wouldn’t you do that?”