The level of hardness in Marysville's water supply has been lowered over the past several months, but residents might not have heard about it. City officials have been waiting to see if they receive any public comment, positive or negative, before making it widely known.

The level of hardness in Marysville's water supply has been lowered over the past several months, but residents might not have heard about it. City officials have been waiting to see if they receive any public comment, positive or negative, before making it widely known.

"One of the issues we always have to deal with is the softness or hardness of our water," city administrator Jillian Froment said. "We really have to think hard about balancing residents' individual preferences."

The level of public water's hardness can be like Goldilocks for residents, she continued - some may find a given level too hard, others too soft, and to some, it's just right.

Froment said the city received comments on water hardness from several residents this spring, and followed up with a study of surrounding communities' water quality.

"We benchmarked Marysville against other communities, and found that in general our water hardness was about 180 to 190 (mg/L), which was generally higher than other cities," she said. "Over the summer we started to soften our water, slowly over three months, to see what kind of a reaction we would get."

Water superintendent Scott Sheppeard discussed the specifics of the city's water softening program.

"We have been softening our water to 140 mg/L since the middle of August," he wrote in an e-mail message. "We have accomplished this by adding additional lime, soda ash and CO2 to our treatment process. Residents of Marysville have the best quality of water that the city has ever experienced in its history, and the quality will only get better with the completion of our new water treatment facility that is currently in the engineering stage. That doesn't mean the water will be softer, it means we will eliminate the constituents that are troublesome to our current treatment technique."

Froment said the city's goal is to maintain the water hardness level at 140 mg/L.

"We do this slowly and try to judge the community's reaction, and we didn't get a lot of calls," she said. "We want the residents to be satisfied, but it's a balance. Some people don't like water as soft as others. That's our goal for now, unless we hear otherwise from the public."

Froment said that while residents consider how hard or soft they like their water to be, they should also know that Marysville regularly tests its water for bacteria levels and other contaminants.

"Our water quality and safety are really important to us," she said. "Most people take their water for granted as long as it's clear and doesn't have an odor, but from our standpoint, safety is our highest concern, and we want to make sure we meet those standards."

Sheppeard said Marysville is required to test its water on a regular basis.

"We are required by the OEPA to collect 20 bacteria samples each month from our water system," he wrote. "These samples are taken from the water treatment plant and from representative locations throughout the distribution system that have been previously approved by the OEPA. We have never had a confirmed positive bacteria sample collected in our water system to date."

Froment said that if an issue such as a broken pipe comes up, the city contact affected residents directly. Residents are always welcome to bring theiir concerns to the city as well, she said.

"If you're a resident with a concern about your water, we're willing to test the water," she said. "We generally ask you to bring in a sample to the water plant, and if you have a concern, we're happy to check your water sample."