City takes proactive steps to maintain water supply
It probably comes as no surprise that limited precipitation in 2023 has led to lower than typical water reserves across southern Alberta. The City of Lethbridge is carefully monitoring and taking proactive steps to ensure a sustained water supply for the region.
We can assure residents there is no current danger of running out of drinkable water in Lethbridge. We do, however, recognize that the water levels are much lower than what we would typically see. The volume in the Oldman Reservoir is the lowest it has been since it was built in the early 1990s and residents may have noticed low river levels in the Lethbridge area.
“The City of Lethbridge is monitoring reservoir levels and works with the Provincial Government to assure our community water supply,” says Doug Kaupp, General Manager of Water and Wastewater Services. “There is no current risk, but we continue to plan and prepare and certainly acknowledge the need for significant precipitation in the months ahead.”
City of Lethbridge staff have been in regular discussion with Alberta Environment and Protected Areas (AEPA) regarding the Oldman Dam level and operations and any forecasted impacts to water levels that would impact the City's supply of water for drinking purposes. Based on the latest meeting, on October 20, the current status of the instream flows exceed the requirements for water at the City’s intake.
Since August, the City been has been encouraging voluntary water conservation. After the request was made to the community, a 20 per cent reduction in peak water consumption was observed.
“We want to thank our residents and businesses for their proactive efforts to help reduce our overall water usage,” says Kaupp. “It has made a big difference and will continue to help through the colder months."
- As a precautionary measure, staff are dredging the water treatment plant intake canal to remove sediments that could limit the intake's hydraulic capacity. This will reduce the risk of deep freezing under any low flow conditions during the winter
- City staff will continue to prepare for the implementation of water conservation measures, if required, to help reduce the demand for water in our community and for our regional partners
- Lethbridge is a regional hub for water and wastewater treatment services to more than 133,000 southern Albertans in the city and surrounding region, including Lethbridge County, Coaldale, Coalhurst, Picture Butte, Monarch, Diamond City, Shaughnessy, Iron Springs, Turin and regional industries, like McCain and Agropur
- Prior to the construction of the Oldman Dam, the natural river flows were sufficient to supply the City of Lethbridge with water, though there was zero on stream storage on the Oldman River at that time
- The Alberta government continues to monitor the situation watching precipitation levels, reservoirs and lake levels, stream flow rates in rivers and water demand. They continue to work closely with municipal governments to help manage and conserve water where possible. More information is available here: Drought | Alberta.ca