Hard water takes toll on coffee shops

Whitehorse’s groundwater is leaving a bad taste in the mouths of some coffee shop owners.

Whitehorse’s groundwater is leaving a bad taste in the mouths of some coffee shop owners.

Cindy Beasley, owner of Java Connection, said hard water has caused significant damage to her equipment over the years.

She blames calcium deposits for clogging the pipes and reducing the water pressure in her main brewer and espresso machine.

“The (calcium) build-up was so great that it even jammed the machine on a few occasions,” she said.

“I was paying about $1,000 a year to have my espresso machine serviced. That’s our livelihood.”

Beasley has since installed a reverse osmosis system on the machine. It dissolves inorganic solids by pushing tap water through a semi-permeable membrane.

The impurities are flushed down the drain.

Hard water has high mineral content, mostly calcium and magnesium but also iron and aluminum.

Whitehorse has been entirely on groundwater for the past six years and its hardness is well within Health Canada’s requirements, said Brian Crist, director of infrastructure and operations for the city.

He said he spoke to a few coffees shop owners about the issue last week but has received very few comments relating to the mineralization of the water.

The city averages around 140 ppm hardness, Crist said.

The level is obtained by measuring the total concentrations of calcium and magnesium, the two most common minerals that make water hard.

Water above 180 ppm is considered “very hard” and Health Canada’s upper limit for municipal water is 500 ppm, Crist added.

“Surface water requires a full water treatment plant and heating of the water, which is very expensive,” Crist said in an e-mail.

“As the groundwater quality in Whitehorse is very good, the city made the decision a number of years ago to go 100 per cent with groundwater. This has resulted in much cheaper utility costs to Whitehorse residents.”

The city has five wells and is soon adding a sixth, Crist said.

Each well has varying degrees of hardness, which means the city has to balance the volume of water drawn from each well to control hardness, he said.

“The city is proud to deliver a high quality of water to residents and businesses,” he said.

“We mostly receive very positive comments about the quality of the water we deliver to citizens.”

Contact Myles Dolphin at myles@yukon-news.com