Edmonton closes spray parks after EPCOR asks residents to use less water

Click to play video 'EPCOR asks Capital Region residents to restrict non-essential water use through weekend' EPCOR asks Capital Region residents to restrict non-essential water use through weekend
WATCH ABOVE: As the water level on the North Saskatchewan River remains high, EPCOR crews are having a tough time keeping up with water treatment. EPCOR is asking residents to restrict non-essential water use through the weekend. Tom Vernon has the latest.

The City of Edmonton has temporarily closed all spray parks until further notice because the high level on the North Saskatchewan River is affecting EPCOR’s ability to produce drinking water.

Heavy rainfall west of Edmonton over the past few days has caused about four times the normal volume of water to rush through the city. The water is flowing rapidly, about six times faster than its normal pace.

READ MORE: North Saskatchewan River peaks overnight, but high water dangers remain

The heavy rainfall and high amount of debris in the river has substantially increased turbidity levels in the water, EPCOR said Thursday. As a result, people in Edmonton, Sherwood Park, Stony Plain, St. Albert, Spruce Grove, Leduc and Fort Saskatchewan are being asked to limit non-essential water use through the weekend.

“What happened to us was that our two water plants that produce potable water for the people of Edmonton and the Capital Region simply couldn’t keep up with demand as the river crested over the last few days,” EPCOR spokesperson Tim La Riche said Friday.

Story continues below advertisement

“When we looked ahead into the forecast into next week we saw more rain coming, so we don’t know if the river will crest again. So we just felt that it was prudent to keep the voluntary restriction call in place for the weekend and allow our reservoirs to replenish over the course of the weekend so we’ll be in a strong position early Monday and hopefully get us through next week if the river should have another rush.”

People are being asked to refrain from:

  • Watering lawns, gardens, trees or shrubs
  • Washing cars or driveways
  • Filling Jacuzzis, hot tubs or swimming pools

According to a city spokesperson, golf courses that water their grass with city water “are not to water” unless they have applied for an exemption.

People can also help by taking short showers as opposed to baths, turn off the tap when brushing their teeth and delay doing laundry if possible.

“All of those little kind of things, if they’re spread out over the million people that we serve in the Capital Region, the cumulative gains are significant,” La Riche said.

EPCOR maintains the water is safe to drink.

“The water is safe to drink. By all means, do those important things. Conserve water, keep yourselves clean, all that is fine.”

Story continues below advertisement

La Riche said EPCOR will reassess the situation Monday morning.

In order to help EPCOR, the city said it is temporarily suspending non-critical use in things like water features, fountains and spray decks.

The city operates six spray parks, one spray deck and one wading pool, and there are dozens of other neighbourhood spray parks throughout the city. A city spokesperson said this shut off is temporary, and that the spray parks will probably close for the season after Community League Day on September 19.

For more information on what to do when the river water rises, visit the City of Edmonton’s website.

WATCH: All eyes remain on the North Saskatchewan River. The city said water levels are dropping but that doesn’t mean we’re in the clear just yet. As Erin Chalmers reports, the danger level remains high.

Click to play video 'North Saskatchewan River hits peak, but danger remains' North Saskatchewan River hits peak, but danger remains
North Saskatchewan River hits peak, but danger remains