Casselman residents concerned by 'swamp water' flowing from taps

Residents in Casselman, Ont., say the village has been less than forthcoming about the yellow-brown water that's been filling their sinks, bathtubs and toilet bowls for weeks.

Water colour caused by high levels of manganese, village says

Rose McDermott says she relies on bottled water to drink and give to her two ferrets because she doesn't trust the water flowing from her taps. (Yasmine Mehdi/Radio-Canada)

Residents in Casselman, Ont., say they want answers about the "swamp water" flowing from their taps.

They say the water has been a murky yellow-brown colour for weeks, and that the colour is accompanied by a strong smell.

"Sometimes in the morning when you're brushing your teeth, you want to gag," said Rose McDermott, who has lived in the village for 24 years.

I don't even feed it to my dog ... Who wants a glass of brown-yellow water?- Suzanne Lajoie, Casselman resident

"It's smelled like rotten eggs…. It's not pleasant coming out of the tap whatsoever. You don't expect to have a smell like that."

She's been drinking bottled water and only lets her two pet ferrets drink filtered water.

The Village of Casselman is approximately 56 kilometres southeast of downtown Ottawa.

Residents told CBC News the water problems have been occurring at least once a year for several years, but has lasted longer this summer, costing them money for bottled water and cleaning products.

"We cook with bottled water. We brush our teeth with bottled water," said Suzanne Lajoie, who has lived in the village for the past three years.

She also won't wear white clothing because she can't wash it.

She said the municipality gets its drinking water from the South Nation River but has been less than forthcoming about what's causing the "swamp water" colour or the smell.

Suzanne Lajoie snapped this photo of water in her bathtub August 23. She says her once white bath pillow has been stained brown. (Submitted by Suzanne Lajoie)

Manganese levels unusually high

In a statement, the Village of Casselman said the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) is the water provider for the municipality.

On the village's website and social media, it stated the water's colour "occurs from naturally occurring manganese" from the river and that the OCWA is working to resolve the "colored water issue" [sic].

"You should notice a clear improvement around half of next week."

The OCWA said Monday that manganese levels in the river have been about 10 times higher than normal in recent weeks due to low river levels.

It also said the agency will be adding chemicals to the water to bring it back to normal in the next few days.

In a statement, a Ministry of Environment spokesperson said it's aware of the situation, and that Casselman's water "meets all of the ministry's regulatory requirements."

This Facebook post from Thursday tells residents the water is safe to drink, despite the colour. (Casselman Municipality/Facebook)

Lajoie said she doesn't believe the village's message that the water is potable.

"I don't even feed it to my dog. [The village] told me that it was safe to drink and safe to make food with. But who wants a glass of brown-yellow water?"

Both Lajoie and McDermott say the water colour improved over the weekend, but they still have more questions than answers.

With files from Radio-Canada's Yasmine Mehdi


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