Water quality

The water that we consume comes from the South Saskatchewan River and is treated by the City's Water Treatment Plant. Water samples are taken regularly throughout the distribution system to ensure the highest water quality.

Is there fluoride in my drinking water? 

The Water Treatment Plant does not add fluoride to the water during the treatment process.

Is there chlorine in my drinking water?

The average amount of residual chlorine in the distribution system is between 0.5 – 0.8 mg/L. Chlorine levels will vary depending on the time of year and quality of the water coming in from the South Saskatchewan River.

Is there lead in my drinking water?

Lead levels are undetectable in water samples collected from various sites around the city.

Lead may be present in your tap water from household plumbing systems containing lead; solder, brass fittings or the service connections to your home. If you live in an older home you know contains lead piping or fixtures containing lead, you may wish to run the cold tap water for a few minutes to rid standing water before drinking or cooking.

Lead is the most common of the heavy elements and is widely distributed throughout the environment. It has traditionally been used in plumbing fittings, lead acid batteries, chemicals, paints and solder.

These uses are decreasing due to the Canadian and US governments introduction of policies and regulations to reduce lead content in these products.

What should I know about asbestos-cement pipe?

Residents who may be concerned about asbestos-cement (A-C) water pipes, and the possibility of asbestos fibers in their drinking water, may find the following webpage helpful.

FAQ about asbestos-cement water pipe

Water flushing

The City has two types of programs that require water flushing in order to improve your neighbourhood’s water quality as well as ensure fire hydrants are properly maintained. These programs run each year from Spring through to the Fall.

Unidirectional flushing

Cast iron water lines will naturally corrode over time resulting in build up inside the pipe and particles settling in the water system. This flushing program requires certain valves be opened and closed prior to flushing water from a hydrant, directing the water in a specific direction. This forces water through the water main to clear it of the naturally occurring particles and sediment. Water main valves are checked to ensure they are in proper working order and chlorine residual is measured, along with turbidity, to ensure we maintain the acceptable level of chlorine residual throughout the water distribution system as required by Provincial regulations.

Current operations

Due to the current drought conditions, routine water main flushing operations have been suspended for the season. 

View Zone Map

Hydrant inspections

Water is flushed from fire hydrants throughout the city as they are inspected to ensure that they are in proper working condition. These inspections must be completed annually for us to comply with insurance requirements.

Current operations

We are currently inspecting and flushing hydrants in: Zone C1 and D

View Zone Map

After flushing, where does the water go?

  • Water flushed from hydrants during operations is de-chlorinated through either truck mounted or mobile de-chlorinator equipment.
  • The water is flowed into the gutter, making its way into the nearest storm water catch basin or directly into the environment depending on the location of the hydrant.
  • Storm water catch basins are connected to a series of storm sewer pipes which eventually end at an outfall.
  • This storm water then discharges from an outfall into a storm pond, stream/creek or directly to the river.
  • In the end, the flushed water is now returned to the environment downstream from where it started!

Are the particles being flushed unhealthy?

These particles are typically made up of rust and metals and will not affect your health. They are more of an aesthetic concern affecting colour, taste and smell.

How does flushing work?

The City has two types of flushing programs that include procedures and checks that are required either by Provincial regulation or for insurance purposes and therefore are mandatory for us to complete in order to maintain regulatory compliance obligations.

Unidirectional flushing

Requires certain valves to be opened and closed prior to flushing water from a hydrant. This directs the water in a specific direction thus forcing water through the main to clear it of particles and sediment. Water quality, chlorine residual and turbidity is measured. During this process, water main valves are checked to ensure they are in proper working order.

Hydrant inspections

Water is flushed from the hydrants as they are routinely inspected for repairs or maintenance.

What happens during the flushing process?

Customers may experience fluctuations in water pressure and/or dirty water. This is due to the valves being closed and the large flow of water from the hydrants. If you open a tap while a nearby hydrant is being flushed, the sediments or particles may be pulled into your internal water lines. Neighbouring streets may also be affected with low pressure or dirty water for the duration that we are working in a specific zone.

If possible, avoid using water when a hydrant is being flushed. This will minimize the dirty water from being drawn into the home or business. Once flushing is completed, clean any strainers or filters on your internal plumbing, run your cold water taps or turn on an outside hose to clear the internal lines, and run the cold water for about 15 minutes or until the water runs clear. Verify that the water is clear before using it - do not do laundry until the water is clear. If dirty water or low pressure continues for over 3 hours, please call us at 403-529-8176.

How often does flushing need to occur?

Ideally, the water system is flushed once per year however based on the size of the city and work zones, certain zones may not get flushed each year. There are also certain areas of the city that require additional or more frequent flushing. 

Water services

Water meters

Water meters are mandatory in Medicine Hat. The City of Medicine Hat supplies a water meter for all new building starts, however depending on the size of water meter required there may be a fee applied to the utility account for the asset.

The City repairs and replaces water meters as necessary and will provide accuracy checks and testing of water meters as required. In 2014, the City of Medicine Hat became the first municipality to combine water, gas and electrical metering into one collections system.

Call us at 403-529-8176 to schedule an appointment for installation or repair on a water meter. Please note that during the winter months, water meters will not be installed unless there is heat in the building. Missed appointments for water meter related services are subject to a fee for “Non attendance after appointment has been schedule” in accordance with Water Service Bylaw #2379.

Services boxes and valves

The service box and curb stop valve is a City owned asset located on the main water service line to your property. The curb stop valve is inside the service box at the property line, often located in the front of the property. The service box must only be operated by Environmental Utilities field operators.

During the Spring thaw the service box cap can begin to rise up out of the ground, which can become a hazard. Please call 403-529-8176 to have a field operator lower the service box at no charge.

Water supply connection

If the water needs to be shut off for repairs or if you are away during the winter months, contact us at 403-529-8176 to schedule an appointment.

Water emergencies, such as no water or a possible water leak, can be reported by calling the 24 hour emergency line at 403-502-8042.

Water line locates

If you are planning to dig or excavate the round in any way, it is your responsibility to submit a locate request before you dig.

Line Locates

Water quality testing

To ensure that the City's water is safe and meets acceptable standards, our field operators collect drinking water samples throughout each week from approximately 32 locations in the water distribution network. Over the course of a year, approximately 1,664 water samples are collected and tested for micro-biological, organic and inorganic contaminants which may affect the health of water users. Water samples are tested both at the Water Treatment Plant and at the Provincial Lab.

The vast majority of samples that are taken are negative or absent of bacteria, however if there is evidence of bacteria, the system is flushed and re-chlorinated. Further samples are taken to ensure the bacteria have been eliminated and that the water is safe to use.

Bottle fill stations

Blue water fountain attached to a red fire hydrantEach summer, we provide convenient access to clean, safe drinking water at various outdoor locations throughout the community. You can find the locations on the City's iMap anytime. In 2024, the water stations are located at:

  1. McCutcheon Natural Area Trail across from 727 McCutcheon Drive NW
  2. Jeffries Trail near 602 4 Avenue NE
  3. East edge of Parkview Close NE
  4. Towne Square at 603 First Street SE
  5. Across from The Mustard Seed near 530 Allowance Avenue SE
  6. Strathcona Island Park near the Heritage Pavilion
  7. South Ridge Trail near 4803 Southlands Drive SE (by Masterpiece Southland Meadows)
  8. Southlands Boulevard SE nearby the cricket pitch

If you think there is a particular location that would benefit many of our residents, please submit it on Shape Your City.

These specially designed units are connected to existing fire hydrants, but do not inhibit the use of the hydrant in case of a fire emergency.

The water in the fire hydrants is the same treated, potable drinking water distributed to businesses and households, and undergoes rigorous testing to ensure it continues to be safe to drink. The units are disinfected each week and are equipped with an automatic flushing system set to run 4 times per day to help ensure the water remains fresh and ready to quench your thirst. 


Tips for use:

The water bottle fill stations are designed to fill personal water bottles (or bowls for our four-legged friends). Patrons are not able to drink directly from the spout, reducing the risk of contamination. 

When the tap is first opened the water may be a bit warm, especially on a hot, sunny day. We recommend allowing the water to run for a minute or two before filling up your water bottle.

Bulk water station

The City provides a bulk water filling station to customers who obtain a permit. The Bulk Water Fill Station is located at 1257 Brier Park Way NW.

To obtain a permit for use or for more information, contact us at 403-529-8176. Please be prepared to provide a copy of your current valid business license, company billing information, current fleet information as well as the purpose for water usage.

Hydrant meter box rental

During the warm months from spring through to the fall, we rent City fire hydrants to construction companies for use on projects that require large amounts of water. To obtain a permit for hydrant rental or for more information please contact us at 403-529-8176. Please be prepared to provide a valid Accounts Receivable number, company billing information and the purpose for water usage when completing the application.

Water Treatment Plant

General info

Located on the same lot as the Power Plant and originally constructed in 1912, the City of Medicine Hat Water Treatment Plant has had numerous upgrades and expansions to accommodate new technology and forecasted water demand until the year 2025. You can find the Water Treatment Plant at 1502 Power House Road SW alongside the South Saskatchewan River.

The Water Treatment Plant is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Through the use of sophisticated control systems and advanced instrumentation, the Water Treatment Plant ensures that every drop of water sent to our customers is 100% safe, 100% of the time. Dedicated and highly trained experts in the field continuously monitor and optimize the plant to ensure that the citizens of Medicine Hat receive the highest quality water.

Currently, the Water Treatment Plant is rated for a maximum output of 160 million litres of water per day, however in practice the maximum output is considered to be approximately 125 million litres per day to maintain high quality potable water.

During the winter months, the average plant effluent (discharge) is in the range of 25-30 million litres per day, whereas during the summer months this will increase to approximately 75-125 million litres per day. Essentially, as the outdoor temperature increases so does the demand for water typically used for sprinkler systems, outdoor pools etc.

History of the water treatment plant


Marks the initial construction of the Medicine Hat Power and Pumping Station. This structure, referred to as “1 Plant”, is still part of the facility today although it has been decommissioned.

Mid 1950's

Solids Contact Unit #1 and two new filter beds installed in “2 Plant”

Early – Mid 1970's

Two additional Solids Contact Units, #2 and #3, constructed along with six additional filter beds in “2 Plant” and “3 Plant”

Early 1980's

  • Modifications made to the electrical system
  • Increased chlorination capacity of plant
  • First computer was introduced (Leeds and Northrup)
  • Additional pumps installed to meet increasing water demands within the city


  • New plant, “4 Plant”, constructed with design capacity of 74 million litres per day
  • Additional Solids Contact Unit #4 with 6 modern dual media filter beds
  • 5 vertical turbine pumps
  • 6 million litre clearwell system
  • Upgraded and additional chemical feed systems
  • State of the art instrumentation and automation systems
  • Upgraded all existing filters


  • “5 Plant” constructed with design capacity of 74 million litres per day
  • Additional Solids Contact Unit #5 installed with 6 additional dual media filter beds
  • New UV disinfection system installed in former secondary clearwell
  • Additional 3.2 million litre clearwell built in 5 Plant


  • 3 de-chlorination/residuals handling tanks and a raised road overland flood prevention berm constructed
  • Sodium Bisulphate injection system to de-chlorinate the water that is returned to the South Saskatchewan River

Water quality

ParameterMaximum (at plant)Average (at plant)Maximum allowable concentrationSource
Total Coliform Bacteria none detected none detected none detected human or animal waste
Fecal Coliform Bacteria none detected none detected none detected human or animal waste
E. Coli none detected none detected none detected human or animal waste
Turbidity 0.1 NTU (plant standard) 0.03 NTU < 0.30 NTU silt and clay
Colour 8 TCU 1-2 TCU AO: <15 TCU organic material
PH 8.1 7.8 7.0 – 10.5  
Total Dissolved Solids approx. 350 mg/L 220 mg/L AO: 500 mg/L dissolved salts
Total Hardness approx. 270 mg/L 200 mg/L   primarily calcium
Temperature 25°C seasonal fluctuations   seasonal river fluctuations
Aluminum 0.1 mg/L 0.07-0.10 mg/L  2.9 mg/L coagulant
Chlorine Residual 1.0 mg/L 0.2-1.0 mg/L 0.1 mg/L disinfectant
Barium   0.06 mg/L 2.0 mg/L trace mineral
Iron   0.01 mg/L AO: <0.3 mg/L trace mineral
Lead   <0.005 mg/L 0.005 mg/L trace mineral
Nitrate   0.7 mg/L 10 mg/L fertilizer runoff
Nitrite   >0.01 mg/L 0.1 mg/L fertilizer runoff
Sulphate   85 mg/L AO: <500 mg/L dissolved salt
Trihalomethanes   0.02-0.04 mg/L 0.10 mg/L disinfection

Description of parameters

Total Coliform Bacteria
Testing for these bacteria after disinfection confirms the effectiveness of the treatment and disinfection (chlorine) process. Total coliform bacteria are indicators of possible contamination of pathogenic organisms (i.e. E. Coli) or may serve as indicators of possible disruptions which might occur after treatment in the distribution system (i.e. water main breaks).

Chlorine Residual
The City of Medicine Hats license approval stipulates that we maintain a minimum 0.1 mg/L detectable chlorine residual at any point within our distribution system. This is to protect the system against bacterial contamination.

A disinfection by-product that results from a chemical reaction between chlorine and naturally occurring organic matter. Health regulations must balance the risk of microbial contamination (e. coli) vs. disinfection by-products. As a result a Maximum Allowable Concentration (MAC) of 0.10 mg/L for trihalomethanes has been established.

Metals (i.e. Barium)
Excess metals in water have been linked to a number of health effects in humans (i.e. – high blood pressure). The South Saskatchewan River is low in industrial pollution compared to a number of other water sources or bodies across the country where metals may be a concern in their drinking water.

Nutrients (Nitrate + Nitrite)
Nutrients can support microbial growth such as bacteria and algae. Excessive nitrates in water have been linked to methaemoglobinaemia or more commonly known as “Blue Baby Syndrome” in infants less than 6 months of age.

Lead – (and copper)
The primary source of lead and copper originates from plumbing fixtures within the household. To minimize exposure, it is a good practice to run the water for at least 30 seconds if the water has been standing in the pipes for more than 24 hours. Also it is advisable to use only cold water for preparation of infant formulas and cooking (as hot water tends to remain stagnant in plumbing longer than cold resulting in higher levels of lead and copper).

** Most newer plumbing is now connected with lead free solder or PVC in nature (PVC eliminates both lead and copper).

Plans for future upgrades include a treatment facility for solids process wastes generated during the water treatment process. Process wastes are currently discharged back into the river so this pre-treatment process is considered to be an essential component as regulated by Alberta Environment and Protected Areas as well as for the long term sustainability and protection of the South Saskatchewan River Basin.

Frequently asked questions

Average water consumption for a home in Medicine Hat

Water consumption depends on how much water is used by each person in the house, and whether there is a yard to water in the summer. A house with one person may only use 5-20 cubic metres of water per month depending on the season. Water conservation is the best way to minimize the water consumption in your home.

Hardness of water in Medicine Hat

Water hardness depends on the level of naturally occurring calcium and magnesium in the water. Hard water is most often noticed when a build up of scale begins to form near faucets.

Water hardness levels will vary, but 150-240 mg/L or 8.7-14 grains is the average in Medicine Hat. The water in Medicine Hat is classified as “moderate” for hardness.

Tips to prevent frozen water lines

With the cold winter months comes the risk of water lines freezing. A frozen water line can be costly, possibly resulting in significant repairs and water loss due to breaks or leaks. Reduce the risk of a frozen water line and/or water meter by ensuring there is sufficient heat flow and insulation on exposed water lines in your home.

Here are some tips to reduce the possibility of a frozen water line in your home or business:

  • Repair broken windows and ensure windows/vents are closed during the winter.
  • Insulate water pipes in unheated areas, including crawl spaces.
  • For sinks located against a non-insulated outside wall:
    • Open the vanity door to allow warm air to reach the water pipes.
    • A light bulb placed near the water pipe may generate enough heat to keep the water flowing.
    • Heat tape wrapped around the pipe may keep the pipe from freezing.
  • Residents of mobile homes should check the condition of the heat tape on their water service and water meter.
  • Protect an unheated indoor water meter with an insulated box and water pipes should be wrapped in insulation using heat tape.
  • Outside water taps and underground sprinkler systems should have the water supply shut off inside the house at the isolation valve for the tap.
  • Sprinkler lines and taps should be drained/blown out.
  • A thin stream of water (as thick as a pen) running continuously from at least one tap will help prevent a frozen water service.
  • If you plan to be away from home over the winter period, close the main water isolation valve located next to the water meter in your home. You should leave the heat on in your home and have someone check inside your home daily while you’re away.

A frozen water service, or a burst water pipe, is an inconvenience and expense that most people would like to avoid. Please take all possible precautions to prevent this happening in your home or business.

Refer to the Prevent frozen water lines page for more information.

Water softeners

Softened water allows soap to form suds easily, does not build up scale in boilers or hot water heaters, and does not leave large mineral deposits on plumbing fixtures, glass shower/tub doors and cooking utensils.

Water softeners require maintenance to ensure they are performing properly. A broken water softener can cause lower pressure and reduced water quality and should be unplugged or bypassed until fixed.

Water pressure

Water pressure will always fluctuate, but the average ranges between 50-60psi. Note that there may be areas in the city where the water pressure is lower or higher. The pressure in your home or business is also dependent on the size of the water service coming in from the water main.

Water temperature

The temperature of the water in the distribution system varies from 1-24 degrees Celsius through the seasons.