Renuka Singh

The aluminium sulfate line at the Caroni Water Treatment plant ruptured overnight and impacted the water at the facility.

From early yesterday morning, consumers were complaining about the smell, look and feel of the tap-borne water in north and central Trinidad.

Users complained that the water felt “sticky” and left a “gluey” feeling in their mouths and skin.

Another said that the water took on a gelatinous quality when boiled.

The Water and Sewage Authority (WASA) would only confirm that there was an incident and that it was being investigated.

Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales yesterday confirmed that he was aware of the water complaints and said he too was “investigating” the matter.

Guardian Media received a copy of an internal report on the incident in which a WASA director explained that the aluminium sulfate line ruptured and was repaired.

The report advised of a “disruption’ to customers serviced by the Caroni plant.

“This follows a rupture that occurred on an Aluminium Sulfate (Alum) line at the facility overnight which affected the treatment process. The authority is aware that some customers may have experienced an unusual taste or smell in their water supply due to this occurrence,” WASA said.

The company assured that the impact “poses no danger”.

“Repair to the ruptured line has been completed and the final cleaning of treatment modules are undertaken,” the report said.

“This is being complemented by flushing along the transmission and distribution systems in areas supplied by the plant,” he said.

The authority also advised that the supply is safe and meets World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines for potable water.

“However, customers can conduct their own internal flushing by allowing their water supply to run in short bursts until the unusual taste or smell clears,” WASA said.

The aluminium sulfate is a water-soluble chemical and is mainly used as a coagulating agent in the purification of drinking water and wastewater treatment plants, and also in paper manufacturing.

Over-exposure to alum can lead to skin irritation, burns, and respiratory issues. If inhaled over a prolonged period, it could cause headaches, nausea, and respiratory irritations