By Medicine Hat News on March 20, 2017.
An order asking Lethbridge residents to limit their water use during ice-breakup in the Oldman River basin will not be extended here say officials at the Medicine Hat water treatment plant.
Over the weekend, the large ice packs on southern Alberta rivers broke up in warm temperatures, causing high levels of sediment.
That led to calls to limit water use, avoid washing cars or watering grass, that have become typical in the spring in Lethbridge, which draws water from the Oldman River.
Murkier water coming in leads to higher chemical use to separate out sediment, and that municipality says there’s a need to save water until adjustments can be made.
In Medicine Hat, local treatment plant manager John Michalopoulos, said the system is operating well and there is no need for residents to be concerned about water quality or lower their water use.
It’s been a number of years since ice break up has caused notable problems for the local utility, said Michalopoulos, adding that sediment is a common problem.
“It can create issues for us because the South Saskatchewan River is fairly shallow and (the ice floes) scour the river bottom as it passes,” said Michalopoulos. “It did create some challenges for us, but the worst has passed.”
Higher sediment, known as turbidity, is common during higher river volumes. The next such expected event is when the snow pack on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains melts, typically in late May and June. He said the snow pack in the mountains is considered to the be on the high side of average.
“Every year is different we go through a multitude of scenarios and we were prepared for it,” said Michalopoulos.
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