Residents of Onoway, Alberta, woke up earlier this week to find that their water had become quite colorful – bright pink, to be exact.
Complaints and concerns regarding the water supply began flooding Onoway’s town office on Monday, leading local officials to look into the matter, CBS News reports. One local resident shared photos on Facebook, saying, “This is what just happened in the Town of Onoway. This is a disaster.” A Facebook group wrote, “Pink water in Onoway, Alberta – complete health hazard. Don’t drink the water.”
Mayor Dale Krasnow issued an apology to the 1,000 people living in the town on Monday, saying that he was going to investigate exactly what led to the odd water color.
Krasnow explained that a valve may have gotten stuck in the water supply system, allowing potassium permanganate – a chemical commonly used to treat water for safe use – to leak into the reservoir then into the town’s water distribution system. Potassium permanganate is used to get rid of iron and manganese from deep-well water. When the chemical dissolves in water, it turns it pink.
In a statement, Krasnow said, “Once we realized this substance had gotten beyond our reservoir and into our distribution lines Pubic Works immediately commenced flushing of all our distribution lines throughout the Town.” He cautioned, “Unfortunately our distribution system is a loop system which makes it much more difficult to control and isolate the water flow.”
Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) alerted residents with a public advisory, but Krasnow insisted “all indications are that there was never a public health risk.”
Health officials say it’s best that people turn on their taps and wait until the water runs clear before using it. By Tuesday, residents were still posting photos and videos of their pink water.
Krasnow assured everyone that their water would return to normal within a few days. He said, “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.”