Water is safe to drink during spring runoff
Water is safe to drink during spring runoff. Our water quality specialists do increased monitoring and testing of the water throughout the treatment process to ensure it is clean, safe and pleasant to drink.
Spring runoff defined
As snow melts and flows into the North Saskatchewan River, it brings with it large quantities of sediment containing decomposing vegetation and other organic materials washed off the land.
During spring runoff, sediment, vegetation and other organic materials give the water a musty or earthy smell. We prepare for spring runoff in advance by adjusting our treatment process to neutralize odours; however,
you may still notice a temporary change in the smell or taste of the drinking water.
We adjust the treatment process during spring runoff
The timing of spring runoff depends on the weather and temperature. While we don't know exactly when spring runoff will occur each year, we're always prepared for when it does. We adjust our water treatment process by adding powdered activated carbon in the first stage of water treatment. The activated carbon helps remove odour-causing compounds and is then removed by sedimentation.
Other than a slight odour or taste during spring runoff,
you shouldn't notice any changes to your water's appearance. If you do, or you notice a change you think is unrelated to spring runoff, please contact us at
Chlorine during spring runoff
Our water treatment processes use chlorine year-round to destroy harmful bacteria and other microbes.
During spring runoff, organic materials react with the chlorine, and this can create a chlorinous smell. While we increase the chlorine used in the treatment process during spring runoff, some of it is consumed by the reactions with organic material before the water enters the distribution system, so that
the amount of chlorine in the drinking water remains unchanged.
You sniffed, we delivered
Each year, we recruit a panel of customer volunteers to participate in our Home Water Sniffing Program. This program is one way we get customer feedback about changes in taste and odour during spring runoff. Participants smell their tap water twice a day and enter their impressions into an anonymous online survey.
The results: In 2018, 92.8% of our home sniffers favourably assessed their drinking water odour during spring runoff.