Residents urged to conserve water

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High river level has demand outstripping supply

EPCOR is asking everyone in the capital region, including St. Albert and Morinville residents, to limit their non-essential water use.

Output of potable water has slowed as a result of the heavy rainfall in the North Saskatchewan watershed over the past several days. The high river level has resulted in more debris in the water and increased turbidity levels.

Spokesperson Tim LeRiche explained the dirtier the water is, the longer it takes for the system to clean it. This slows the rate at which the water can be made safe to drink, and demand for water in the region is currently in excess of production – but he could not say specifically how much demand is outstripping supply.

“It’s enough that we, out of a concern for caution, came out publicly,” he said.

The company produces between 350 and 500 mega litres of water for the more than one million people in the region.

It maintains several reservoirs around Edmonton, typically holding a two-to- three-day supply. That can be extended if residents reduce water use.

“Every drop counts,” LeRiche said. “Little things can go a long way.”

People should not use water for non-essential purposes like watering lawns and gardens, washing cars or driveways, or filling hot tubs or pools. EPCOR is also asking people to reduce their use of water for essential purposes. Take shorter showers instead of baths, turn off the tap when shaving, delay laundry and hand-wash small amounts of dinner dishes rather than using a dishwasher.

The quality of the drinking water has not been affected, as the company continues to uses its technology and resources to ensure safety.

“Right now the water’s safe to drink,” LeRiche said. “This is simply a call for people to help us out and see if we can get through this thing.”

He said there’s more rain forecast in the coming days, so at this point it’s difficult to say how long residents will be asked to conserve water. Turbidity levels were reduced somewhat over the course of Thursday morning.

City of Edmonton officials have also said the river level peaked at about 6.7 metres, and is receding – but it could take several days for it to recede, according to media reports.

“We still felt we wanted to let the public know that if they could assist us for the next little while, that would ensure everybody has potable water,” LeRiche said.

Meanwhile in St. Albert, according to Alberta Environment the Sturgeon River rose from about 55 cm. Aug. 21 to about 87 cm. Aug. 22. As of Thursday afternoon, it had receded down to about 60 cm.

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Doug Neuman