Advertisement

Edmonton treatment plant failure triggers non-essential water use ban across region

Click to play video: 'Edmonton treatment plant failure triggers non-essential water use ban across region'
Edmonton treatment plant failure triggers non-essential water use ban across region
An equipment failure at the E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant, one of Edmonton’s two water such facilities, has prompted EPCOR and surrounding municipalities to issue a ban on non-essential water use. Sarah Komadina reports – Jan 29, 2024

An equipment failure at one of Edmonton’s two water treatment plants prompted EPCOR and surrounding municipalities to issue a ban on non-essential water use on Monday afternoon.

EPCOR said a pump issue occurred at the E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant in southwest Edmonton, where water distribution has been halted.

The plant provides water not just for the city of Edmonton, but several surrounding communities, including Sherwood Park, St. Albert, Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, Leduc, Beaumont, Fort Saskatchewan and Morinville.

EPCOR said the problem happened at 2 a.m. Monday, when there was a failure in the distribution pumping equipment systems that move water from treatment plant into the distribution system.

“It was within an electrical system that feeds the pumps that distribute water from the E. L. Smith Water Treatment Plant,” said Craig Bonneville, director of engineering and technical services with EPCOR.

Story continues below advertisement

“It’s a complex one that we’re facing. We don’t ask our customers to do this very often.”

The city’s other plant, the Rossdale Water Treatment Plant, remains operational but EPCOR said it cannot adequately supply the entire service area with normal water consumption.

The Edmonton region that receives water from EPCOR is being told to eliminate non-essential water use. Until the E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant returns to normal operations, EPCOR said customers may also experience low water pressure. There is no impact to the quality of the drinking water, it added.

“We had crews responding right when the failure was first detected,” Bonneville said. “We have all resources – both EPCOR’s and our contracting partners, suppliers – to make the repairs as soon as possible.”

Click to play video: 'EPCOR energizes solar farm at Edmonton river valley water treatment plant'
EPCOR energizes solar farm at Edmonton river valley water treatment plant

Businesses that use large volumes of non-essential water – such as laundromats and car washes – are being asked to halt water use.

Story continues below advertisement

EPCOR said businesses using water to deliver a product or service that is life-sustaining for people, animals and plants are exempt. Other exemptions include any business that must use water to meet health code standards, such as hospitals and restaurants.

When asked how long it would be before EPCOR’s reservoirs would be depleted if people don’t cut back on their water use, Bonneville said “it’s very hard to give specific timelines to restoration of service and also to the time where they’d be overly depleted. Our reservoirs, when the event occurred, were at normal levels for this time of year.

“These demand management measures that we’ve called can have a significant positive benefit to give us more time to restore service, and in this case, hours do matter in our work to restore service.”

A photo of an Edmonton car wash on Jan. 30, 2024. A day earlier, an equipment failure at one of Edmonton’s water treatment plants prompted EPCOR and surrounding municipalities to issue a ban on non-essential water use. Global News

Residents are asked to conserve water by taking short showers instead of baths, turning off the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving, and flushing toilets only when necessary.

Story continues below advertisement

Until further notice, residents are asked to reduce or postpone all non-essential water use.

People are asked to delay laundry, hand-wash small amounts of dinner dishes, and wait to fill hot tubs, pools or large aquariums.

“Every drop helps,” EPCOR said. “These are difficult circumstances and EPCOR understands the significance of this impact to residents and businesses and we appreciate the cooperation of the public.”

It’s not known when water service from E.L. Smith will be restored and EPCOR said the restrictions will be in place until repairs are complete.

“Right now we’re doing everything we possibly can to restore service so we can maintain water to all of our customers,” Bonneville said.

EPCOR said it is working to notify all of its large commercial and industrial customers in the region of the water ban so the word gets out as quickly as possible.

“Hopefully we see a positive response from our customers,” Bonneville said.

Click to play video: 'Fountain of water shoots into the air after fire hydrant knocked over in south Edmonton'
Fountain of water shoots into the air after fire hydrant knocked over in south Edmonton

Several communities also issued their own news releases Monday about the water restrictions.

Story continues below advertisement

The Town of Morinville said it would suspend sewer flushing, firefighter hydrant training, and other heavy water use activities.

The Town of Stony Plain said it would halt the flushing of watermains and sewers, as well as firefighting training, street sweeping, irrigation, flow tests, washing fleet vehicles (including buses) and and the operation of spray decks.

The City of Leduc said it would take similar measures, along with halting outdoor ice surface maintenance — saying all ice surfaces are closed.

— with files from Caley Gibson, Global News. 

Sponsored content

AdChoices