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​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.

Spring runoff is an annual, naturally occurring and temporary event that changes the quality of water in the river.  During spring runoff, sediment, vegetation and other organic materials can give the water a musty or earthy smell. EPCOR prepares 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.

It's important to remember, your water is absolutely safe to drink during spring runoff. Our water quality specialists continuously monitor and treat the water 24/7 as it enters the plant adjusting and compensating for changing river conditions to ensure it is clean, safe and pleasant to drink.

When the weather starts getting warmer, spring runoff can occur

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 it 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.

Water quality concerns

Other than a slight odour or taste during spring runoff, you shouldn't notice any changes to your water's appearance. Call us if you do, or you notice a change you think is unrelated to spring runoff.
Call (780) 412-4500

You analyzed, we delivered

Each year, we recruit a panel of over 300 Edmontonians to participate in our Spring Home Analysis Runoff 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.

Each day we look at the data compiled by our home analysts​ and use that information as one of the important metrics on how and when we dose carbon during spring runoff. 

The results: In 2022, 93​​% of our home analysts​ favourably assessed EPCOR's water, finding no or limited odours in their water during spring runoff.

Easy tips to neutralize odour

If you're experiencing slight odours in your water during spring runoff, there are a few things we recommend:

  • Run the cold water tap for at least 3 minutes (or until the water feels cold) in the morning and any other time when the water hasn't been used in 6 or more hours.
  • Adding lemon slices to your water is a great way to neutralize any odour along with store-bought carbon filters.
  • If you're using a device to filter your tap water, remember to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for replacing and conditioning the filter cartridges.