Clearer, cleaner water for city

Unusually low runoff levels mean much less treatment has been needed at Red Deer’s water plant this spring.

Lead operator Ryan Begley takes a dip sample of Red Deer River water as it passes through a high rate Actiflo clarifier to remove organics and sediment in the city’s water treatment plant Tuesday.

Lead operator Ryan Begley takes a dip sample of Red Deer River water as it passes through a high rate Actiflo clarifier to remove organics and sediment in the city’s water treatment plant Tuesday.

Unusually low runoff levels mean much less treatment has been needed at Red Deer’s water plant this spring.

Randy Reaman, water superintendent for the City of Red Deer, said on Thursday that because runoff has been so light, water coming into the plant from the Red Deer River is in much better condition than usual for this time of year.

The water is clearer and contains far less organic material than it would ordinarily carry during spring runoff, said Reaman.

That means city residents are not likely to notice any unusual flavour or aroma in their water and taxpayers will get a break in the amount that it costs to run the plant, compared with what would normally be expected in spring.

Normally, the plant uses more chemicals in its processes during the spring runoff, said Reaman.

The exception is chlorine, which is added at the same level throughout the year to control organic materials in the water.

The reason people are more inclined to notice a chlorine flavour or aroma in spring is not because more of that particulary chemical is being used, but because there is actually more organic material in the water, said Reaman.

Taste and aromas are affected when the chlorine combines with organic materials, so people are more likely to notice the odour when there are higher concentrations of organic material in the water, he said.

While the lack of runoff is a benefit to city users both from an aesthetic and economic standpoint, heavy runoff in spring is a function of a healthy watershed, said Reaman.

Alberta Environment’s water supply outlook for April rates the Red Deer River basin as below average for the current period.

The volume at Dickson Dam is 83 per cent of average with a potential minimum of 56 per cent of average occurring during the spring and summer.

Volumes at Red Deer are at 76 per cent of average with a potential minimum of 45 per cent of average.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com