Low river levels require increased water conservation efforts

Medicine Hat – In response to observed low river levels and water shortage advisories for river basins upstream of Medicine Hat from Alberta Environment and Protected Areas (EPA), the City of Medicine Hat will enact Phase 1 of the Water Shortage Management Plan effective Monday, Aug. 28, 2023.

With hot, dry temperatures expected to continue, City officials have been monitoring the South Saskatchewan River flow rates and water conditions upstream.

“Taking into account the water shortage advisories that have been issued by the EPA in major river basins upstream of Medicine Hat as well as other major Cities enacting their own various requests for public water conservation efforts, we have been preparing and are ready to enact Phase 1 of the City’s Water Shortage Management Plan,” says Jamie Garland, Interim Director of Environmental Utilities.

The City’s Water Shortage Management Plan provides guidance for City operations and the public to work together in reducing water usage by increasing water conservation efforts until the concerns of low river levels subside and water shortage advisories are lifted.

“Our priority is to ensure ongoing water treatment and distribution of safe, reliable drinking water to our customers,” says Greg Paxman, Interim Manager of Treatment Plants. “We encourage everyone to do their part in conserving water by following the City’s Phase 1 guidelines. This will help lessen the demand for water until the river flow rates return to normal levels.”

Phase 1 of the Water Shortage Management Plan asks for voluntary public water conservation measures. Voluntary actions include limiting the watering of lawns and gardens to 60 minutes per day not more than three days per week. This phase also details mandatory water conservation measures for the City to minimize non-essential water use by limiting actions like non-essential hydrant flushing and reducing watering in some City parks.

The City is in communication with the EPA and if river flow forecasts indicate continued low flow rates into autumn, and if voluntary water conservation measures are not having the desired impact, the City may enact Phase 2 of the Water Shortage Management Plan.

Residents can find information about water conservation and the details of Phase 1 on the City’s website at www.medicinehat.ca/waterconservation.

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