Brown water bother: Winnipeg family asking for 25% rebate

A trio of summers with yellow-brown tap water has Scott Lengyel demanding some of his money back.​

St. James family's frustration with 3 summers of brown tap water has father calling on city for rebate

A trio of summers with yellow-brown tap water has Scott Lengyel demanding some of his money back.​ 2:11

A trio of summers with yellow-brown tap water has Scott Lengyel demanding some of his money back.​

The Winnipegger said having to buy clean water for his newborn and two-year-old has been adding up.
Erin and Scott Yengyel said they have had problems with brown tap water the last three summers and have frequently resorted to buying their own water. As a result, the St. James family wants the city to give them a 25 per cent rebate on their water bills. (CBC)

“Having to buy a ready-made formula instead of a powdered formula because you can’t trust what is coming out of the taps, it's just, just ridiculous."

The Yengyel’s home has had brown water off and on for about a month and a half this summer, and Lengyel thinks the city should be held responsible.

Lengyel wants a 25% per cent rebate on his water bill because he’s paying for a product he can't use, he said.
This dirty water is a paler version of what normally comes out of Scott and Erin Lengyel's tap, the couple says. (CBC)

“It's the cost out of my pocket at times just to feed my family,” said Lengyel. “We've gone to other arrangements to feed our children because we can't trust our water at times.”

The city offered to pay for some of Lengyel’s dry cleaning, but he said that’s not enough.

“Why we are being charged for something we frequently can't use? Products you pay for should be usable,” said Lengyel. “In any other industry I know of if you can't use it you return it for a refund.”

Brown water breakdown:

  • A city investigation revealed manganese present in Winnipeg's water as the cause of discouloration 
  • The city says magnanese/brown water is not harmful
  • There have been 1,545 brown water complaints in 2014, down from 5,182 in 2013
  • It will take two years for the city to flush its watermains and adjust its chemical treatment process
  • The city has compensated people for ruined laundry
  • Without approval from council, the city says it doesn't have the authority to issue refunds or discounts

With a new baby at home, Lengyel questioned the long-term health effects and the impact on his wallet to buy water.

Jeff Greene is also experiencing brown water problems with the filling of his pool.

"I came out and lifted up the hose and sure enough there is brown water shooting out of the hose," said Greene.

Correcting his brown water woes has cost Greene $75 in extra chemicals he's had to apply to clarify the swimming water.

Brown water has also seeped into his icemaker and hot water tank.

"I want to get what I pay for, I don't mind paying for it," said Greene. "But let's get what we pay for, otherwise I want a refund."

Drinking the discoloured water shouldn't make you sick, city officials have said, but they don’t advise residents drink it either.

The city has also said residents should hold off on doing laundry or dishes in dark water.


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