Residents in a town northwest of Edmonton were shocked to find bright pink water coming out of their taps, the discovery has residents puzzled – but the town says the water is safe, and was being dealt with.

Starting on Monday afternoon, Onoway residents discovered bright pink water coming out of their taps.

“It started out with my neighbour asking me if I had pink water, and I’m like ‘I don’t think so’,” Vicki Van Zanten Heale said. “A little bit later our water became pink.”

She said she found the water colour disturbing, and posted some pictures to a local Facebook group, and more residents said they were seeing the same thing.

“As the night wore on, more and more people were saying they had pink water,” Van Zanten Heale said.

However, residents were still in the dark as to why the water was an odd colour – but the mystery appeared to be solved.

“We do a weekly flush and have done it for years and years, and nothing like this has ever happened before,” Onoway Mayor Dale Krasnow said.

Krasnow said the town uses potassium permanganate to help with its well water, the chemical can cause water to turn pink, and the water changed colour due to an issue with some equipment at the water treatment plant.

“Potassium permanganate leaked into the distribution system,” Krasnow said.

Krasnow said Alberta Environment was notified, and they “proclaimed it was safe.”

However, many residents were not convinced.

“This morning when I ran the tub to give [my kids] a bath, I immediately shut that down,” Shauna Wilkinson, a mom of two, said.

Over the day, the colour of the water coming out of her taps improved – but Wilkinson and a number of other residents said there should have been better communication with residents from town officials.

“At the time the town hadn’t released anything to let us know if it was safe, so of course we avoided it,” Wilkinson said.

The mayor apologized for how the incident was handled.

“I offer a sincere apology that we didn’t get something out there, at least to say: ‘Your water is pink’,” Krasnow said, he said a statement was not sent out until officials had all the facts.

A second statement released later Tuesday said officials with public works, and officials from Alberta Environment had completed their assessment of the incident, and early results found an issue with automations and/or valves at the water treatment plant.

Officials said the town will continue to work with Alberta Environment, and the equipment will be taken offline, and backwashing with potassium permanganate will stop until the system is operating properly again.

As of later Tuesday afternoon, all main lines had been flushed and were clear, but officials said there could be some pink water in some lines still, they advised residents run their water for a few minutes to clear it out.

With files from Susan Amerongen