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Why Calgary Isn't Experiencing The Same Water Problems As Lethbridge

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Photograph by: Christina Ryan, Calgary Herald


The problems with melting snow that triggered a boil-water order in Lethbridge isn’t causing the same water situation in equally balmy Calgary, the city’s water treatment manager said Wednesday.

Melting snow and dirt flowing into the river has created turbidity in the Oldman River flow that supplies Lethbridge’s drinking water. The Bow River and Elbow River, which form Calgary’s potable water reservoirs, don’t currently have the same issue, John Jaroginec said.

“We haven’t seen any significant changes in turbidity,” he told the Herald.

Jaroginec said the Oldman River basin tends to be “flashier,” than the Bow or Elbow basins — that is, more prone to sharp increases in turbidity levels.

Should the water in Calgary’s reservoirs become muddier, the last round of treatment upgrades gave city facilities the ability to handle it, the treatment manager said.

“A good testament to that was in 2013, when we saw the big flood waters come here and our turbidities were unmeasurable, they were so high. And we were still able to produce high-quality drinking water,” Jaroginec said.

Lethbridge’s roughly 80,000 residents were told their water is no longer drinkable because of storage shortages. As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the city is under a boil-water order.

“Please cooperate and do not hoard water. We are at risk of not having enough water available for fire suppression,” the Lethbridge warning states.

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