The township of Onoway has apologized to its residents after they were alarmed to discover bright pink water coming from their faucets.
Late March 6, residents of Onoway began to find that the water coming from their taps had turned a neon purple color, The Canadian Press reports. The water reportedly later became a bright pink, and residents began to ask the town’s government what was going on.
“It’s not Cream Soda or pink lemonade but a sample of what is coming out of the water taps in Onoway,” wrote reporter Susan Amerongen, captioning an image of a glass jar filled with the fuchsia liquid.
Onoway Mayor Dale Krasnow posted a statement on the town’s website saying the water was safe, and there were no risks associated with the pink water, according to BuzzFeed News.
According to Krasnow, the water had been treated with potassium permanganate during its filtration process, which can turn water pink in large enough amounts. He added that a valve may have gotten stuck during the process, allowing the substance to build up in the water supply.
“We are still assessing what exactly happened but it appears a valve may have stuck allowing the potassium permanganate to get into our sump reservoir and thereby into the Town’s water distribution system,” Krasnow said.
Krasnow assured residents that the pink water was “not a public health risk,” but later admitted that Onoway could have done a better job of informing citizens about the situation.
“Could the town have done a better job of communicating what was going on yesterday to our community? Absolutely, without a doubt,” said Krasnow.
“And we do apologize for that. This is a situation we can certainly learn from and develop a strategy for better response and communication should we ever face the same or similar situation in the future.”
Potassium permanganate is commonly used to remove iron and hydrogen sulfide from water, along with the removal of unpleasant smells and tastes from water, according to BBC. The chemical can cause skin irritation, but there were no reports of any effects on residents.
The town stated the chemical ended up in the water supply during “normal line flushing and filter backwashing.” Onoway has since drained its reservoir and is reportedly flushing its distribution system. The mayor added that Alberta Environment officials would be visiting the town to review its system to prevent the situation from occurring again.
Despite Krasnow’s reassurance that the pink water is safe, Onoway resident Vicki Veldhuyzen Van Zanten said she didn’t use it.
“It was weird. I just didn’t use it, I had leftovers, I put what we had in the microwave, I didn’t need water to make supper,” said Veldhuyzen Van Zanten.
“But I’m sure other people had issues,” she added. “It was very, very pink.”