To serve you better, we've assembled a list of our customers' most frequently asked questions. If you don't find your answer here, feel free to contact us.
What do I do if I am experiencing low pressure?
A – Hard water, Iron, and Manganese all contribute to sediment buildup and can affect main shutoff valves, PRV's, and your supply line. The first thing to do is make sure there are no leaks around your house. Next, if you have not recently replaced your main shut off valve and PRV call your plumber and ask them about replacing these items. If the pressure is still low then call Alto's office and leave a message, we will return your call.
Why is my water discolored?
A – The most common reason for discoloured or cloudy water is sediment in the water.
- The presence of iron and manganese in the water. Alto’s water has trace amounts of iron and manganese. Iron and manganese in the groundwater are almost entirely suspended in the water and not visible to the eye, but the process of pumping the water out of the ground introduces oxygen into the water and causes the iron and manganese to precipitate out of the water. At this point the water still appears clear to the eye and is within Canadian drinking water guidelines, but precipitated iron and manganese can build up on the walls of pipes. Solution – run water until it clears.
- Sloughing - Sediment and buildup in customer supply lines “slough” off causing the water to become cloudy and discolored. As was mentioned above, precipitated iron and manganese can buildup on pipe walls. This material can become dislodged at any time, but particularly if there is a higher draw than normal (starting irrigation in the spring, filling a pool or hot tub, even running a hose that you haven’t operated all winter). Solution – run water until it clears.
- Regular monthly flushing – Alto regularly flushes terminal ends in its system. Where possible, utilities try to loop their mainlines. This means that that water can flow in two directions in the pipe to supply water demand. Sometimes the utility does not have this option and must “dead end” the line. Alto has several of these “dead ends” and regularly flushes these to keep the water in those lines fresh. This action stirs up the water and the water can be cloudy and discoloured. If you are trying to use water during regular flushing you may experience this discoloured cloudy water. Solution – run water until it clears.
- Spring and fall unidirectional flushing - Precipitated iron and manganese can build up on the walls of pipes. In the spring and fall Alto performs uni-directional flushing to remove any buildup of material; sand and sediment often consisting of iron and manganese precipitate. This action makes the water extremely cloudy and discoloured. Alto will post these activities ahead of time at its Lodge Road facility. Solution – run water until it clears.
- Line break – Though extremely uncommon, it is possible that there is a break in either the Utilities line or the customers supply line. Check for pooling water or soft or damp ground. Solution – Contact Utility
Why do I have a previous balance when I know I sent in my payment?
We may have received it after the due date or we may not have received it at all. Call our office and we will help you solve the problem.
What is turbidity and does Alto have high turbidity water?
- Turbidity is a the cloudiness or haziness of water due to suspended particles in the water. It is calculated by shooting a beam of lihght through a sample of water and measuring the amount of light that is refracted.
- Alto has turbidity meters at both source and reservoir and we report daily averages every month to our Interior Health officer. National guidelines require les than 1NTU. The daily average at the Lodge pumphouse ranges from 0.08-0.1 NTU and the daily average at the Cheryl Reservoir was ranges from 0.25-0.45 NTU. This is quite typical for Alto. In the summer months the turnbidity can drop in the reservoirs due to increased water turnover (higher demand). What may not be readily apparent is why the turbidity increases in the reservoir. This is due to suspended iron and manganese that precipitates out in the presence of oxygen. As the water is pumped out of the oxygen free environment deep in the aquifer, oxygen molecules are introduced and they combine with iron and manganese molecules in the water causing them to precipitate and subsequently increase the turbidity.
- If you look at biannual comprehensive reports for Alto's well you will see that the NTUs are higher in the comprehensive reports than on-site turbidimeters. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the water samples for the biannual comprehensives are taken directly from the wells so the iron and manganese have not had time to precipitate. By the time the water has sat in the reservoir for several hours, precipitation has started. This is why the NTU’s are higher in the reservoir, but some of this precipitate will stay in the reservoir and in the pipes supplying water to households effectively lowering the turbidity of the water. Second, the water that is tested for the annual comprehensive water tests is thoroughly mixed with oxygen as it is collected, so lots of oxygen is present in the sample. While that sample waits to be tested the temperature increases which in turn increases the oxidation process (oxygen binding to the iron and manganese) causing precipitation and an increase in the turbidity level. Long story short…the turbidity of the water coming out of your tap will be lower than the reported test results.
- You may also notice that when you complare the NTUs from Alto two wells they are different. The reason for this is that the two wells have different water chemistry (iron and manganese levels are higher in the north well than the south well).
Does Alto filter the water?
Alto does not currently have a filtration system, but is considering options. In Febraury 2024 Alto will have completed a longterm asset management plan that will, amongst other things, lead to a treatment plan. In 2022 Alto completed a source water assessment plan that determined that Alto needed to plan for some kind of treatment, likely chlorine. Since chlorine is a strong oxidizer (like oxygen) adding chlorine will cause iron and manganese to precipitate out and potentially causing increased turbidity. If and when Alto introcduces chlorine treatment at that point we will determine whether filtration will be necessary.
Is Alto’s Water treated with chlorine?
Currently, Alto does not treat its water with chlorine, but that may be changing. In 2022 Alto completed a Source Water Protection Plan to determine whether the aquifer that Alto pumps water from continues to be safe to supply untreated water to its customers. The report determined that there was sufficient filtration between the surface and the pumps to protect the water from large waterborne bacteria like Cryptosporidium and Giardia, but it also determined that it could be susceptible to much smaller viruses. It is important to note that the wells' susceptibility to viruses is only a potential susceptibility. Viruses are difficult to measure and test for and preventative measures can often be less expensive than monitoring. Alto continues to work with the local Health Authority on this issue.