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Substance clean-up in the Oldman River

September 12, 2019: 

Good news! The public (and dogs!) can resume swimming and boating in the Oldman River.

Our Water and Wastewater department has determined that the oily substance discovered in the Oldman River on September 3 is no longer entering the river from the stormwater system. The previously released material has been contained and removed. Crews will be removing clean-up equipment from the river over the next few days.

Alberta Environment is conducting the investigation into this incident.


September 5, 2019: Until further notice, please avoid swimming or boating in the Oldman River north of the Highway 3 bridge and next to Peenaquim Park. We are finding oily residue from the cooking oil spill near these areas and we are working to clean it up. Please keep your furry friends on land too!


September 4, 2019:
We are currently investigating a yellow oily substance that was released into the Oldman River through the stormwater system. Our drinking water remains safe and is unaffected by this event due to the location of the substance release.

Crews worked with local spill response specialists to contain the substance yesterday.  We will continue to remove the material from the river until it has passed through the stormwater system.

Testing is ongoing to determine what the material is but preliminary results suggest that it could be cooking oil. The source of the substance is still being investigated.

The City reminds residents and businesses that anything that enters street storm drains goes directly into the Oldman River untreated. Pollutants can come from washing vehicles and industrial equipment, hosing debris and liquids onto the street or pouring waste directly down the storm drain.

In order to protect water quality, and fish and wildlife habitat, only clean water or naturally occurring stormwater should enter the drainage system.

Examples of harmful materials include:

  • cooking oils and grease
  • industrial waste
  • pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers
  • trash, soil, leaves, and grass clippings
  • gasoline, motor oil, transmission fluid and antifreeze
  • solvents and paints
  • water from pools and hot tubs
  • soaps or detergents (including biodegradable products)
  • cement/concrete waste
  • sawdust and construction materials
  • any substance that gives off an odour

For more information, visit


For Public Inquiries:
Call 311 | Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Media Contact:
Kim Schaaf, Communications Consultant
City of Lethbridge