Water Conservation

Conserving water is an environmental initiative that can help extend the life of our waterways - the source of our safe and reliable water services. Water conservation and water stewardship are key priorities for our water utility, and you can help.

Current conditions 

The City of Medicine Hat is in regular communication with Alberta Environment and Protected Areas (EPA) regarding the current river levels. As information on the watershed is shared, the City is prepared to respond if necessary.

Scale showing dry water conditions in Medicine Hat

 

November 2, 2023 Update: As the seasons change, please note that the City of Medicine Hat remains in Phase 1 of the Water Shortage Management Plan with voluntary water conservation measures still in place. 

At this time, there is no imminent concern with the City's raw water supply from the South Saskatchewan River that could affect the Water Treatment Plant operations in treating and providing potable water to the City's distribution system.

Yellow banner with transparent geometric designs
Phase 1: Voluntary Conservation

Implement water conservation measures, where possible, in the home to minimize non-essential water use. For example, using washing machines and dishwashers only on full loads. Refer to these tips to conserve. 

 

Water shortage management plan 

The City of Medicine Hat has a 4 Phase Water Shortage Management Plan where, if enacted, the public will be asked to reduce their water use in an effort to help protect the integrity of the potable water system to safeguard and preserve public health and safety, especially regarding domestic water use, sanitation and fire protection. 

Read the Water Shortage Management Plan

While the City departments will enact various water conservation measures to reduce and limit water using operations, here is an overview of how this Plan will affect the public.

Phase 1: Voluntary public water conservation measures 
  • Implement water conservation measures to minimize non-essential water use. For example, limit irrigation, use washing machines and dishwashers only on full loads, etc.
  • Limit watering your lawn (except for newly seeded or sodded lawns) and vegetable gardens to 60 minutes per day, not more than three days per week, corresponding with residential odd and even address numbers.
    • Even number addresses (addresses ending in 0, 2, 4, 6, 8) may use outdoor irrigation and sprinklers for 60 minutes per day on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
    • Odd number addresses (addresses ending in 1, 3, 5, 7, 9) may use outdoor irrigation and sprinklers for 60 minutes per day on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
  • Water only between the hours of:
    • 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.,
    • 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., or
    • 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. 
Phase 2: A combination of voluntary and mandatory public water conservation measures 

Mandatory:

Restricted use:
  • Limit watering your lawn (except for newly seeded or sodded lawns) and vegetable gardens to 30 minutes per day, not more than three days per week, corresponding with residential odd and even address numbers.
    • Even number addresses (addresses ending in 0, 2, 4, 6, 8) may use outdoor irrigation and sprinklers for 30 minutes per day on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
    • Odd number addresses (addresses ending in 1, 3, 5, 7, 9) may use outdoor irrigation and sprinklers for 30 minutes per day on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
  • Water only between the hours of:
    • 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.,
    • 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., or
    • 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. 
Prohibited use:

Do not wash outdoor surfaces, fill swimming pools/hot tubs, or turn on decorative outdoor water features.

Voluntary:

Implement water conservation measures to minimize non-essential water use inside the home or business. For example, using washing machines and dishwashers only on full loads, stop washing vehicles. 

Phase 3: A combination of voluntary and mandatory public water conservation measures with further limitations to water use 

Mandatory:

Restricted use:
  • Limit watering lawn and vegetable gardens to 30 minutes per day with a hand-held sprayer only, not more than two days per week, corresponding with residential odd and even address numbers.
    • Even number addresses (addresses ending in 0, 2, 4, 6, 8) may use handheld means to water outdoors for 30 minutes per day on Tuesday & Saturday.
    • Odd number addresses (addresses ending in 1, 3, 5, 7, 9) may use handheld means to water outdoors for 30 minutes per day on Wednesday & Sunday.
  • Water only between the hours of:
    • 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.,
    • 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., or
    • 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. 
Prohibited use:

Do not use decorative outdoor water features, wash outdoor surfaces, or fill swimming pools/hot tubs. Construction activities requiring water are prohibited.

Voluntary:

Implement additional water conservation measures on top of those noted in Phase 2 to minimize non-essential water use. For example, limit shower time, bath water level, and toilet flushing.

Phase 4: 
All Phase 3 mandatory restrictions will remain in effect, plus water use is prohibited for all non-essential services.

Why conserve?

A river running through your community may cause residents to think that conserving water is not a necessary practice. However, rivers are not infinite. Hot, dry weather can create water shortage and/or drought conditions, where the river levels diminish significantly. This can greatly affect the raw water supply to the Water Treatment Plant and the treated water supply to our residents.

Water conservation and efficiency is not only good for the environment, it helps reduce the overall costs for water distribution and collection systems. Plus, it can save you, the consumer, on your monthly utility statement. 

Ways to conserve water

Make every drop count and conserve the water that you use all year 'round!

Outdoor

Design
  • Slope flowerbeds and place plants needing the most water in low areas.
  • Redesign the yard to add or increase the size of a patio or deck to reduce space that requires watering and add to the value of your property.
Minimize
Xeriscape part of your yard. Minimize turf and maximize creative landscaping by replacing portions of your lawn with tiered gardens, rocks, mulch and drought resistant shrubs or trees. Minimize evaporation by watering in the early morning or late evening hours when the temperature is cooler.
Leave it long
Set mower blades between 2 - 3 inches and leave the grass cuttings on the lawn to slow water evaporation and to fertilize the grass.
Mulch matters
A 3 - 6 inch layer of bark, wood chips or stones will reduce evaporation from the soil, inhibit weed growth and minimize soil erosion.
Grow with SureGrow
Enrich soil naturally, prevent erosion, conserve water and save money by using compost. SureGrow compost, made from yard waste materials collected locally, is available for purchase at the Waste Management Facility. Refer to www.medicinehat.ca/Landfill for more information.
Cover it up
If you own a pool or hot tub, be sure to cover it up when it is not in use. Not only is this an important safety tip, but it also reduces water loss due to evaporation.
Leak check
Frequently check for water leaks on hoses, faucets, irrigation lines, pools and ponds to avoid high utility bills and possible property damage.
Time it
Install an automatic timer on sprinkler systems to avoid leaving them running all day. Turn sprinkler timers off during periods of rainfall and let Mother Nature do the job for you.
Save it
Consider using a rain barrel to harvest rainwater from downspouts and use this water for your lawn and garden.
Sweep it
Clean your driveway and sidewalks with a broom instead of the hose.

Indoor

In the kitchen
  • Clean fruits and veggies in a partially filled sink or container rather than running the tap.
  • Keep a container of drinking water in the fridge to avoid running your tap when you want a cold drink.
  • Adjust the flow rate from your sink tap to only what is required, being sure to turn it off tightly so that it doesn’t drip.
  • Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you clean off the stuck on food.
In the bathroom
  • Only flush the toilet when necessary and never use it as a wastebasket.
  • Leaky toilets can waste up to 400 litres of water per day. Check for and repair leaks to minimize water loss and high utility bills.
  • Turn the tap off when brushing your teeth, shaving and washing your face. Use short bursts of water instead.
Around the house
  • If your washing machine does not automatically adjust the water levels based on load size; only operate it when you have a full load.
  • Insulate your hot water pipes so that the water heats up faster, minimizing the amount of time you have to run the faucet to get hot water.
  • Consider upgrading appliances, like washing machines and dishwashers, to energy efficient models.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is water conservation mandatory?
For the public, no. During phase 1, the public is asked to voluntarily reduce water use by following the guidelines provided to limit outdoor irrigation practices. However, there are mandatory water conservation measures being put into place for City departments to follow.
Why are water conservation measures required?
A combination of various triggers are considered when deciding whether to enact the Water Shortage Management Plan Phases: 
  • South Saskatchewan River (SSR) flow rate.
  • Flow rates and reservoir levels upstream in the Bow and Oldman Rivers.
  • Forecast flows being below average.
  • Low-flow advisories issued by Alberta Environment and Protected Areas (EPA).
  • Observation of how upstream communities are reacting to the above considerations.

Although Environment and Protected Areas (EPA) has not issued a Low Flow/Water Shortage Advisory for the SSR, the City is taking a proactive approach by enacting Phase 1 of the Water Shortage Management Plan in an effort to help reduce water demand.

What is the City doing to reduce water use?
  • City departments will lead by example by implementing measures to minimize non-essential water use.
  • Unidirectional and hydrant flushing operations will be put on hold, except for repairs or where required to maintain compliance obligations.
  • Parks and Recreation will implement Phase 1 Water Conservation Measures to reduce water use by 25%.
Do I have to restrict the amount of water I use inside my home/business?
No, but the public is encouraged to make every drop count by implementing water conservation measures both inside and outside year round. 
Can I put the sprinkler on for my kids to run through?
Yes, but please remember to turn the sprinkler off and not to run it too long.
Can I use water to fill my wading pool, swimming pool, hot tub, or garden pond?
Yes. You may use water to fill wading pools, swimming pools, hot tubs, or garden ponds, but consider using a cover to reduce water loss through evaporation.
What should I do if I’m not home during the designated watering times?
Consider installing a timer or ask a friend or neighbour to turn on your sprinkler during the designated times.
I just planted new sod/seeded my lawn; can I still water it?
Yes. You can continue to water newly seeded/sodded lawns through Phases 1-2 of the Water Shortage Management Plan. Outdoor watering becomes restricted to hand-held water means in Phase 3.
How will I keep my lawn alive?
  • Continue to water your lawn on the designated days and within the times provided for your address.
  • Watering early in the morning or later in the evening reduces chance for evaporation and burning so that your lawn can soak up as much water as possible.
  • Leave your lawn long, about 2-3 inches should do, and leave the grass cuttings on the lawn to slow water evaporation.
How will I know if the City moves to another phase of the Water Shortage Management Plan and restrictions become mandatory?
The City will communicate any change required through a formal media release, which will also be posted on the City website, and social media platforms.

If you have additional questions or concerns regarding this information, please contact Environmental Utilities at 403-529-8176.