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Water Treatment and Distribution

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Water Treatment

The City of Medicine Hat Water Treatment Plant draws raw water from the South Saskatchewan River, part of the South Saskatchewan River Basin (SSRB), and through the treatment process potable water is released into the water distribution system for our consumption.

The South Saskatchewan River Basin is comprised of four sub-basins being the Bow, Oldman, Red Deer and South Saskatchewan Rivers. All of the basins begin in the Rocky Mountains, generally flowing eastward through the foothills and prairie. The combined watershed of the basins is 121 095 km2, of which 41% is from the Red Deer sub-basin, 22% to the Oldman, 21% to the Bow and 16% to the South Saskatchewan. Major urban centers in the basin include Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer and Medicine Hat.

Water Source Information

In a nutshell, water from the South Saskatchewan River is drawn into the Treatment Plant through intakes at the bottom of the river. Raw water pumps transfer the water through screens, Solids Contact Units (SCUs) and dual media filters. The filtered water is then transferred to clearwells where the chlorination process is completed. The chlorinated water is then moved through the Ultraviolet Light Disinfection system before being pumped into the distribution system. Alberta Environment and Parks regulates that a chlorine residual must be maintained in the potable water to prevent contamination within the distribution system.

A full description of the treatment process can be found on the Water Treatment Process page of the website.

Spring Run Off

During the Spring, the water flow in the South Saskatchewan River can change rapidly due to river ice break-up, runoff from snow-pack, ice melt and precipitation, with every year being different. The river flows and spring runoff can carry naturally occurring organic matter like leaves, grass, soil, mud and silt which increases the turbidity (clarity) in the water and can cause minor discoloration of the water as well as impact tastes and odours.

The Water Treatment Plant continuously monitors river water quality and regularly adjusts the treatment and testing process to respond to the changes. While the water may not look aesthetically pleasing or at times may have a different smell or taste - the water remains safe and drinkable. The water is routinely tested daily as it leaves the WTP as well as in the distribution system and it meets and exceeds all Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines and Alberta Environment and Parks standards.

Distribution System

The City provides potable drinking water to customers by way of the water distribution system and is responsible for the installation and maintenance of water mains, City service lines, main valves, curb stop valves at property line as well as the water meter asset.

Field Operations crews in Environmental Utilities maintain and operate the water distribution system, with approximately 430km of water mains and more pipe being added each year. The water mains lead to and from booster pump stations and reservoirs with the endpoint being your home or business.

Additional Information


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