Water & Sewage

The Town of Mayerthorpe is the proud recipient of a 2012 Innovator Communities Award from the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association for applying innovative technology to upgrade sanitary sewer infrastructure.

The Town of Mayerthorpe is pleased to boast a new, state-of-the-art Water Treatment Plant facility and Sewer Lift Station.  Water for the community is obtained from five wells. We have a reservoir capacity of 4,055 cubic metres.  The sewage is treated in a lagoon system with four short and three long detention ponds.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

How do I know that my water is safe to drink?
What affects the quality of Mayerthorpe’s water sources?
What is Manganese?
What is Iron?
What is Calcium?
What is the standards which govern the allowable levels of manganese, iron, and calcium in drinking water?
Are there health concerns about manganese in our drinking water?
What kind of testing is done to ensure my drinking water is safe?
How can I be sure my drinking water is tested regularly?
How do I know that Mayerthorpe’s water treatment facility is in compliance with the conditions of its approval?
What is filtration and how does it help make source water safe to drink?
What is disinfection?
Why does my water smell like a swimming pool?
Can Albertans view the data collected by water treatment facility operators?
How will I know if my drinking water becomes unsafe?
What is the greatest threat to my drinking water?
Is the operation of my treatment facility regulated?
Do qualified personnel operate my water treatment plant?
What are Alberta’s drinking water standards and legislation?
What does compliance mean?
What is Mayerthorpe doing to improve the overall water quality?
What should I do if my water is discolored?
What should I do if my laundry has been stained by discolored water?

What should I do to improve the life span of my appliances that use municipal water?

What should I check for after a water main break?

 

 

How do I know that my water is safe to drink?

Effective treatment is paramount in ensuring that water is safe to drink. The Town’s water treatment facility operators, Alberta Environment and the Aspen Regional Health Authority each have a responsibility to ensure safe drinking water for Mayerthorpe. Facility operators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of treatment plants and must operate in accordance with the standards set out by Alberta Environment. Facility owners are required to report to Alberta Environment anytime they cannot meet their specified terms and conditions.  The Provincial Laboratory of Public Health (Microbiology) performs microbiological testing of drinking water samples taken by the system owner. Drinking water quality concerns are reported to and addressed by Regional Health Authorities.

What affects the quality of Mayerthorpe’s water sources?

Mayerthorpe’s drinking water comes from groundwater. Groundwater is further divided into two distinct types: shallow groundwater that can be impacted by surface water source and high quality groundwater. Shallow groundwater that can be impacted by surface water and is also referred to as groundwater under the influence or groundwater under the influence of surface water (GUI). To ensure that the health of Albertans is protected, this ground water under the influence is treated in the same manner as surface water because it contains microbiological or organic organisms. High quality groundwater is not subject to the same health related concerns and therefore does not require the same level of treatment.

Climatic events, such as rain or drought have the largest impact on groundwater quality. Periods of heavy rain or extended drought will affect water quality.  Groundwater can contain a high amount of naturally-occurring elements like manganese and iron.  Most of these elements are removed during treatment processes; however, can build up in the Town’s water distribution (mains) over time.

What is Manganese?

Manganese is a naturally-occurring element that can be found universally in the air, soil, and water.  It is an essential nutrient for humans and animals, with humans getting most of their manganese through food.  Manganese is found in many healthy foods, including nuts, beans, fruits, and leafy green vegetables.  Food contributes approximately 100 to 1,000 times more total manganese to our daily intake than drinking water does.  Test results suggest that manganese is the primary contributor to discolored water; however, iron also contributes to discolored water.

What is Iron?

Iron can be found in supplements and is a naturally-occurring element that can be found universally in the air, soil, and water.  Iron can also come from deposits in the distribution pipes, which primarily originate from iron water mains.  It is an essential nutrient for humans and animals, with humans getting most of their iron through food.  Iron in drinking water may affect the taste and color of the water, but is not easily absorbed into the body.

What is Calcium?

Calcium occurs in water naturally. Calcium is an important determinant of water harness, and it also functions as a pH stabilizer, because of its buffering qualities. Calcium also gives water a better taste. Calcium is naturally present in water. It may dissolve from rocks such as limestone, marble, calcite, dolomite, gypsum, fluorite and apatite. Calcium is a determinant of water hardness, because it can be found in water as Ca2+ ions.  Calcium is a dietary requirement for all organisms apart from some insects and bacteria. Calcium carbonate is a building stone of skeletons of most marine organisms, and eye lenses.   Calcium is a dietary mineral that is present in the human body in amounts of about 1.2 kg. No other element is more abundant in the body.

What is the standards which govern the allowable levels of manganese and iron in drinking water?

The Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality do include aesthetic objectives for both iron, manganese, and calcium.  Aesthetic objectives are targets intended to minimize problems with the colour, taste or smell of the water. The Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water set an aesthetic objective for manganese of 0.05 mg/L and for iron of 0.3 mg/L.  Calcium has no guideline as there is no evidence of adverse affect to humans in drinking water; however, calcium contributes directly to water hardness.

Health Canada is currently in the process of reviewing the available evidence for health effects associated with manganese in drinking water.  Early indications suggest that a health based guideline for manganese will be developed. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a health-based guideline level of 0.4mg/L based on average lifetime consumption.

Are there health concerns about manganese in our drinking water?

Although ingesting large quantities of iron in any form (ex: supplements) can be harmful, the concentrations of iron identified in Alberta’s drinking water (discoloured or otherwise) would not be expected to cause any health effects in the short or long term.

What kind of testing is done to ensure my drinking water is safe?

The Town’s water treatment operators regularly sample and test water, then analyze their data to know how effectively their treatment and distribution processes are working to provide safe drinking water. Physical parameters, such as turbidity, pH and colour are monitored.  Monitoring is also done on treated water before it enters the distribution system, and at random locations throughout the distribution system. This monitoring focuses on microbiological quality.

Testing includes health-based chemical parameters listed in the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality published by Health Canada.

How can I be sure my drinking water is tested regularly?

The Town’s facility approval conditions outline the operational monitoring and reporting that is required of facility operators, and how frequently it must be done. Public access to the details in Approvals issued by Alberta Environment is available through the Authorization/Approval Viewer. The requirements for facilities operating under a Code of Practice is available at:

http://www.qp.gov.ab.ca/documents/codes/groundwater.cfm
http://www.qp.gov.ab.ca/documents/codes/distribution.cfm

How do I know that Mayerthorpe’s water treatment facility is in compliance with the conditions of its approval?

Alberta Environment regularly checks facilities’ drinking water quality monitoring results against approved water quality guidelines. In addition, Alberta Environment conducts periodic inspections of water treatment facilities to ensure compliance with Approval conditions. When incidents of non-compliance are identified, the Department works directly with the drinking water facility to ensure safe drinking water and optimize facility performance.

What is filtration and how does it help make source water safe to drink?

Filtration is the process of physically removing suspended particles in water by passing it through a porous medium. Suspended particles of organic and inorganic matter cause surface water to appear cloudy. This cloudiness, or turbidity, is monitored prior to, and following, the filtration process.

Water treatment filtration systems include both chemical and physical processes. Pretreatment makes the particles in the water clump together so that they can be more readily settled and filtered out. Mechanical devices are used to continuously mix the water at the pretreatment stage so that all of the water gets treated prior to being filtered.

What is disinfection?

After source water has been filtered it must be disinfected to treat any bacteria, viruses and protozoa that did not get removed during filtration. A chlorine residual must also be maintained throughout the distribution system to keep treated water safe.

Chlorine is the most common disinfectant used in Alberta, although there are alternatives such as chloramines, ozone and ultraviolet radiation. Each type of disinfectant has advantages and disadvantages and is considered when designing a waterworks facility.

Why does my water smell like a swimming pool?

Chlorine is utilized to disinfect your water and keep it free from harmful microorganisms.  The levels of chlorine are harmless in the quantities used.   A small quantity of chlorine stays in the water after treatment to ensure that the water remains disinfected from the treatment facility to your tap. You may occasionally experience a slight smell or taste of chlorine coming from your tap water (the water is still safe). When outdoor temperatures fluctuate, chlorine can become more volatile. Other times, depending on the quality of the water supply coming from the groundwater, it may be necessary to adjust water treatment. This may include increasing the level of disinfectant to ensure your drinking water remains safe.

Residents can remove the taste and smell of chlorine by following these suggestions:

  • Fill an uncovered glass pitcher with water and place it in the refrigerator. Most of the chlorine will dissipate, plus you’ll conserve water by not running your tap each time you fill a glass.
  • Bring your water to a rolling boil for five minutes and allow the water to cool.
  • Add a lemon slice or a few drops of lemon juice to a glass of drinking water.
  • Use a carbon filter.

Residents living close to the water treatment plant may experience the smell of chlorine more so that residents living at the outer limits of the Town.

Can Albertans view the data collected by water treatment facility operators?

Alberta Environment posts electronic reports from Alberta’s approved water treatment facilities on its website. Data most important to drinking water quality, such as turbidity, microbiological quality, and disinfectant residual can be viewed.

How will I know if my drinking water becomes unsafe?

The Regional Health Authorities are mandated through the Regional Health Authority Act to protect the health of the community and to prevent disease. They work closely with treatment operators and Alberta Environment in monitoring the status of drinking water, and are responsible for issuing boil water advisories or boil water orders when situations warrant such action. When this does happen, consumers should follow the recommendations provided by their Regional Health Authority with respect to the procedure for boiling water prior to consumption.

What is the greatest threat to my drinking water?

Microbiological contamination is the greatest threat to drinking water and ensuring adequate treatment is the best defense.

Is the operation of my treatment facility regulated?

Yes. All municipal waterworks facilities and distribution systems must have a specified number of certified operators. Alberta Environment administers the Water and Wastewater Operator Certification Program that offers a program of varied levels of operator certification based on the complexity of the treatment required.

Do qualified personnel operate my water treatment plant?

Yes. In Alberta, operators must fulfill the requirements of a certification process that includes education, experience, successful completion of examinations, and ongoing training.

What are Alberta’s drinking water standards and legislation?

Alberta has the authority to regulate the treatment of drinking water through the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, and regulations including the Potable Water Regulation. Under this legislation, water from regulated waterworks systems must meet Health Canada’s Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. The Potable Water Regulation outlines requirements such as the design, performance and operation of waterworks facilities. The Potable Water Regulation also requires all facilities to meet the Standards and Guidelines for Municipal Waterworks, Wastewater and Storm Drainage Systems.

What does compliance mean?

Compliance refers to the ability of the drinking water system to meet the terms and conditions of the approval or registration.

What is Mayerthorpe doing to improve the overall water quality?

Secured funding to drill and put into production a new water well.  This new water well will provide the Town with sufficient water supply enabling staff to complete annual water distribution (main) flushing program.

Cleaned and inspected the water reservoirs to remove any buildup of sediment in 2015.

Replacing cast iron water mains annually and by the end of 2017 it is anticipated that all cast iron water mains will have been eliminated.  Elimination of cast iron water mains will allow for increased water pressure, reduction in iron deposits, and reduction in water main breaks.

Modified existing treatment process to improve mineral reduction in the filtration process.

In 2016, a consultant is to complete a Water Distribution System Analysis to provide short and long term recommendations on enhancing Mayerthorpe’s water quality.

What should I do if my water is discolored?

It is recommended that you do not use discolored water for drinking, preparing food and beverages, or laundry.  This is recommended because discolored water does not taste, smell or look pleasant, and it can stain clothes.  Health officials do not recommend drinking discolored water but if small amounts are consumed, no harm is expected.

  • Turn on a COLD water tap and let the water run for a few minutes.  It is best to use a bathtub tap as there is no screen to trap any sediment.
  • If the water isn’t clear after a couple of minutes, turn off the tap, wait 30 minutes and try again.
  • If the water does not clear up after 3 hours, contact the Town Office.

What should I do if my laundry has been stained by discolored water?

If you notice rust or iron on clothes when taking them from the washer:

  • Don’t dry them in the dryer or rewash in hot water before treating the stains. Heat sets the stains and makes them difficult or impossible to remove.
  • Do not use chlorine bleach to attempt to remove rust stains. Chlorine will also make the stain permanent.
  • Rewash the clothes immediately in clear water with a heavy duty detergent.

What should I do to improve the life span of my appliances that use municipal water?

Some environmental effects of water hardness include hardening of domestic equipment, because high temperatures cause carbonate hardness. This may dramatically decrease the lifespan of equipment, and causes an increase of domestic waste.  Homeowners can greatly increase the life of their hot water tank by flushing the tank twice per year to remove mineral build up in the tank.  Homeowners can utilize water softeners where the primary water supply is hard, use bottled water where the appliance recommends use of bottled water.  Vinegar is an affordable product that can assist in descaling appliances.

What should I check for after a watermain break?

The easiest way to flush a home’s plumbing lines is to open a large tap while all other taps remain closed. The bathtub(s) in a home are ideal for this task. Open the cold water valve in the bathtub. Listen for hissing and spitting, a sign that air remains in the line. Run the water until it is clear, and no additional air bubbles are released.

The bathtub’s tap provides the ideal solution for water main-induced problems. The tub faucet is much larger than those that serve the sinks, so it can discharge debris particles in the water line without getting clogged. Debris clogs in lines with smaller faucets can cause pressure problems that require you to clean out your faucet screens. Debris can clog water lines to other fixtures like toilets and sinks, as well as to appliances, boilers and water heaters.

Occasionally, a piece of debris is the system is large enough to close off a water supply pipe completely. If you have no water at all, contact the Town Office to see whether they’ve shut off the water to your home as part of the repair process. If they believe the water is on, you may need to contact a plumber to help you locate and remove the blockage.