MEDICINE HAT, AB — Residents in the City of Lethbridge and Lethbridge County are being asked to conserve water.
A quick melt and ice jams in the Old Man River are causing a lot of turbidity and making the water hard to treat.
A boil water advisory may have to be issued if the City of Lethbridge can’t keep up with the water needs of residents.
Medicine Hat is facing a similar situation with the water in the South Saskatchewan River, but officials in Medicine Hat are not issuing any advisories at this time.
The city's water treatment department said ice flows have stirred up silt on the bottom of the river and runoff from the melt is carrying dirt and other contaminants into the waterway.
It is causing the amount of particulate in the river to increase.
Over the weekend, the turbidity rating jumped from under ten to over 4,000 and is currently sitting around 400.
John Michalopoulos, manager of treatment plants, said it’s forcing the city to add more chemicals to treat the water, but it remains safe to drink and they are keeping up with demand.
“We use more of the chemicals to remove the particulate matter that’s coming through the water to make it clear enough for us to filter,” he said. “That is a challenge at times, but it’s not the first time we’ve had to deal with that.”
Michalopoulos said they anticipated there would be more particulate in the water this year because of the colder winter, the increased precipitation and the quick melt.