Skip to main content

Epcor starts spring runoff routine to prevent 'earthy' smelling water


As the snow melts away in Edmonton, water treatment plants in the city are getting ready to handle streams and extra sediment making its way into the river.

Epcor has started preparations for spring runoff and is reminding Edmontonians that seasonal changes to their tap water are safe and temporary.

The North Saskatchewan Watershed is surrounded by agricultural land, forests and wetlands and each spring the snowmelt brings an influx of vegetation, sediment and organic matter that can affect the qualities of the water coming into the city.

The extra organic materials can cause tap water to smell musty or earthy, Epcor said, but does not affect the quality or drinkability.

"Ideally, and quite frankly probably the most typical, is our customers won't see any changes in the treated water quality. You won't even know something happened," said Jamie Gingrich, senior manager of water treatment plant operation at Epcor.

He said spring runoff can be particularly challenging to treat because of the amount of organic matter that comes from snowpack in agricultrural areas further upstream in the water shed and when that water is chlorinated, it can cause it to smell or taste slightly different.

"It's very short lived, it can happen every year. It's normal," he added. "At the end of the day, the water remains safe to drink and that's priority one for us." 

To try and lessen the impact of runoff, the utility provider said several measures are in place and will remain so until the river's condition stabilizes.

Upstream, Epcor said watershed specialists are monitoring the North Saskatchewan River, and at the Rossdale Water Treatment Plant, testing is taking place more regularly for any factors that could affect water quality.

Epcor has also enlisted the help of more than 300 Edmontonians through the Spring Home Analysis Runoff Program to report the smell and taste of their tap water daily until the end of April.

If people are experiencing a slight odour or taste during runoff, Epcor suggests filtering water or adding some lemon slices. If the taps have been off for more than six hours, running the cold water for at least three minutes (or until it's cold) can help.

Other than a mild smell or taste, tap water should appear normal. Gingrich said anyone who sees a change in their water's appearance, or has concerns about a change not related to spring runoff, should contact Epcor at 780-412-4500. Top Stories

Stay Connected