Pooling water, potholes and putrid water: Spring is around the corner in Edmonton

Winter warmup soaks Edmonton streets
WATCH: As the weather warms up, the snow Edmonton has recently seen is turning into pretty major puddles. Quinn Ohler has more on the affect on roads.

You get up in the morning and pour yourself a glass of water. But along with the water comes a bit of a stench. Then, you get into your car and head off to work — there’s pooling water in parking lots, at the end of your driveway and as you turn nearly every corner in the city. Then, as you head down the street, bump! You hit a pothole (or two).

These are the sure signs of spring in Edmonton and while there may be some bumps along the way, city crews are hard at work to make the seasonal transition as smooth as possible.

“We’re dealing with a couple of issues,” EPCOR’s Tim le Riche said. This is the first time the company has been in charge of the spring tasks since taking over drainage last fall.

“The first is pooling of water all over the city: on roadways and close to people’s homes.”

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Pooling water

As of 11 a.m. Monday, EPCOR had received 224 calls for pooling water since Saturday. Le Riche said the volume of calls isn’t out of the ordinary, but the nine drainage crews deployed on the streets right now are busy. More crews will be deployed in the days ahead, he added.

Clearing snow and ice away from drainage basins is the top priority, particularly around schools and hospitals.

“The windrows get piled up along your roadway, you shovel snow off your driveway… so those catch basins can get covered and they can freeze,” le Riche explained.

“We clear out those catch basins. If they’re frozen, we’ll thaw them. If they’re covered up, we’ll clear them off.”

READ MORE: ‘Swimming hole’ of puddles worries Calgary business owners and pedestrians 

Residents can do their part to help, le Riche said, by going out and clearing the basins in their areas and digging a trench to help the flow of water as temperatures heat up.

Putrid water

The second issue facing EPCOR crews is the odour coming from the tap.

“Every year once spring runoff begins, people with sensitive senses of smell can sense that musty smell in the water. That’s caused by spring runoff,” he said.

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“Vegetation on all the rural areas around Edmonton begins to rot and the water from spring runoff brings the rot into the feeder streams and that flows into the river and as a result of that, you get that musty smell in the water.”

EPCOR has a team of water sniffers hard at work in a lab to ensure the water quality. EPCOR can also adjust the chemistry of the water to keep the smells at bay.

“The water is perfectly safe to drink.”

Watch below: (From March 16, 2018)Edmontonians’ drinking water is safe but at this time of year it can stink. It’s an issue EPCOR tracks regularly and as Fletcher Kent reports, they use what might be the simplest test in their entire process.

Why EPCOR has workers who sniff Edmonton’s water
Why EPCOR has workers who sniff Edmonton’s water


Since Jan. 1, road crews have filled more than 5,000 potholes on city streets and the work isn’t stopping anytime soon.

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READ MORE: How do potholes form, anyway? And how can you avoid them?

“We’ve been proactively inspecting our roads when weather allows and we’ve been filling potholes whenever possible,” said Eduardo Sosa, who works infrastructure maintenance with the City of Edmonton.

“We want to minimize when residents encounter the potholes. We want to be able to fill it before we have complaints.”

So far this year, the weather has been typical in terms of how many potholes are in the streets, Sosa said, but that can change.

“We are still in winter mode. We are heading into spring but depending how much precipitation we have, and how much freeze and thaw cycle we have, that is what will dictate how many potholes we have in our roads.”

Drivers who see potholes are encouraged to report them online, call 311 or use the city’s 311 app.