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Orillia man's patience with tap-water quality has dried up

'All of our pipes in the house are literally caked full of calcium,' says frustrated resident; city official says water quality meets standards
An Orillia resident refuses to drink local tap water due to its taste and high content of calcium.

An Orillia man is putting the blame on Orillia’s water for damaging his hot-water tank and faucets.

When David Mitchell moved to west Orillia from Toronto more than two years ago, he noticed the tap water at home “tasted off.”

“If you boil a pot of water, you can literally see the calcium popping out of the pot,” he said. “You can see it all around the burner.”

In an emailed statement to OrilliaMatters, Andrew Schell, the city’s general manager of environment and infrastructure services, said Orillia’s drinking water is similar to other areas of Simcoe County as its source is classified as hard water. Water is determined to be hard by measuring the concentration of calcium carbonate found in the water. Hard drinking water is common in Simcoe County due to limestone deposits.

“Orillia’s drinking water meets all of the requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act," he said, adding more information about the water quality in Orillia can be found here.

Mitchell says the calcium content in Orillia’s water is too high and it’s costing him financially.

“All of our pipes in the house are literally caked full of calcium,” he said. “Our hot-water tank has leaked twice because of the calcium.”

Mitchell says a plumber recommended he buy a water softener to solve the calcium blockage.

“I can go to Barrie, Toronto or even Gravenhurst and the water tastes absolutely fine. I’ve never had an issue,” he said. “Every time I come back home, I have to drink water from my Brita filter.”

Mitchell says he plans to buy a $3,000 water filter and have it installed in the house.

“I’m going to end up having to replace the hot-water tank because every so often I have to flush it out,” he said. “I basically have to fill it up with vinegar in order to dissolve all of the calcium pockets inside of it before I can fill it back up and run it with fresh water again.”

Schell says hard water can create scale buildup on plumbing fixtures, and it can happen more quickly when the hard water is heated.

“However, there are many preventative measures residents can take to remove the scale deposits, including using household cleaning products such as vinegar, citric acid, or CLR, and flushing hot-water tanks on a regular basis,” he said. “Some users prefer to install a water softener at their residence to limit the amount of scaling that occurs.”

Mitchell hopes more Orillians will advocate for better-tasting and cleaner water.

“We need to band together so we can actually turn on the tap in the kitchen,” he said.

Schell says the city has a Drinking Water Quality Management System to ensure public health is protected. The system is audited by an external auditor who has been approved by the province. The city conducts sampling and testing to monitor drinking water. Each year, the city releases test results in a report that can be found here

“If anyone has any questions or concerns about their water quality, environment and infrastructure services staff are available to answer questions, provide reports, or investigate concerns further,” he said.

To contact environment and infrastructure services, call 705-329-7249 or email [email protected].


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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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