May 23rd, 2017

Water war wages on


By Lethbridge Herald on March 20, 2017.

Blocks of broken up surface ice rests along the banks of the Oldman River Monday as muddy conditions and high turbidity caused by rapid melting and ice jams has slowed the City's production of potable drinking water. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Melissa Villeneuve
Lethbridge Herald
mvilleneuve@lethbridgeherald.com
The City of Lethbridge is urging the community to continue limiting water usage as much as possible to avoid the need for a boil-water order.
Over the past five days, rapid snow melt and ice jams have contributed to extremely muddy conditions and high turbidity in the Oldman River.
As such, the Water Treatment Plant is finding it difficult to keep up with producing potable drinking water. On an average day, the Water Treatment Plant produces 53 million litres of potable water, but since late last week, water production has slowed considerably, at times to less than half this volume.
A voluntary water conservation notice was issued to the public last Friday and remains in effect until further notice.
“We’re asking the community, both residential and business community, to curtail any discretionary non-essential water use while we still maintain or attempt to improve production and get our storage levels back to what we consider to be a normal situation,” said Doug Hawkins, the City’s Infrastructure Services director, during an update to members of council on Monday.
“This does compare to what happened almost exactly three years ago in terms of the challenges we would have had in dealing with the changing conditions of the water supply,” he said. “The good news is because we made some operational changes in terms of storage levels, we do a better job in terms of communicating to the community, we have successfully managed to work our way through this so far without ending up in a boil-water situation.”
The community efforts to conserve water are making a difference, the City says.
Hawkins estimated, if conservation efforts continue at the same level, it could be another two days before the Water Treatment Plant returns to full storage capacity.
Water Treatment Plant staff have been working around the clock since last Thursday to restore water reserves to normal levels required for fire suppression and supply to the local community as well as regional water customers.
The City of Lethbridge also supplies water to surrounding communities including Coaldale, Coalhurst, Diamond City, Iron Springs, Monarch, Picture Butte and Turin.
The public is thanked for delaying activities such as washing cars, pressure washing driveways, using washing machines and dishwashers, and to those who are taking short showers to conserve water.
The City of Lethbridge has also suspended the washing of City vehicles including police, fire, Transit and Public Operations vehicles, unless it is necessary for safety reasons. The City assures the water is safe to drink, although residents may notice a different taste and smell.
Updates will be provided when they become available. Additional information on water treatment and conservation is available at http://www.lethbridge.ca/water.

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