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Alberta Water Quality Facts and Drinking Water Problems

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Canada’s fourth–largest province, Alberta holds approximately 2.2% of the country’s fresh–water supply contained in numerous lakes, reservoirs, rivers, aquifers, and other buried channels across the province. The majority of Albertans’ daily water needs are provided for from surface water sources (lakes, rivers, and wetlands), though depending on the area, some residents may drink and use water sourced from both surface and ground–water reserves.

Like neighbouring Saskatchewan, many of Alberta’s water sources are located in the northern reaches of the province, somewhat removed from major population centers. This can create a number of complications as water is distributed to your tap from remote sources. From dry, itchy skin to mineral and white scale build–up, many Albertans find their tap water can cause headaches at home. Tending toward the hard end of the water spectrum, water throughout the area can also be of poor quality that may impact taste and odour.

Edmonton Water Problems

Common water issues in Edmonton, and how to fix them

The North Saskatchewan River watershed provides water for the entire city of Edmonton. Stretching from the Rocky Mountains in central Alberta nearly to the border of Saskatchewan, this vast watershed includes 12 subwatersheds that all feed into treatment centres located across the Edmonton area. Residents enjoy a regular supply of freshwater that can sometimes be plagued by the usual issues associated with river and groundwater. Wells in the Edmonton area can also have high levels of hardness caused by dissolved iron, dissolved solids, manganese, methane, hydrogen sulphide gas, and organic colour.

Hard, Poor-Quality Water

Harder water often comes with river water territory, as water travels along, absorbing minerals and sediment from the ground over which it travels. Rural Edmontonians notice their tap water is hard, as it generally contains high concentrations of dissolved solids. Dissolved solids and minerals in the water that get there naturally from the geography can cause some common problems for residents in rural Alberta, like:

  • Scratchy, stiff laundry
  • Itchy, dry skin
  • Overworked and underperforming appliances
  • Limescale buildup

Itchy, Dry Skin

Residents of Edmonton also report their water can sometimes have unpleasant effects on skin, leaving it dry, scaly, and itchy, especially in winter months. These side effects can also aggravate existing skin allergies and sensitivities, like eczema and chafing.

Spotty, Cloudy Glassware

A symptom of hard water, glasses and dishware washed in Edmonton’s untreated tap water can have a cloudy appearance, even after having been thoroughly cleaned. For the conscientious housekeeper, this can be an annoying hassle, though one with a relatively simple fix in the form of a water softener.

Tips From the Culligan Water Expert

Keep a squeegee or dry cloth in the shower to prevent the buildup of hard water staining on shower doors and fixtures.

Did You Know?

The Great Divide Waterfall on the High Level Bridge in Edmonton is one of the tallest man-made waterfalls in the world.


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