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Lethbridge, Atla. boil water order lifted Friday afternoon

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Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Friday, March 14, 2014, 2:49 -

Authorities lifted a boil water order Friday in Lethbridge, Alta., and will be re-opening all public pools by the evening. A local state of emergency was declared on Wednesday as levels in its reservoir dipped critically low, but were able to resolve the problem quickly thanks to cooperation from the public.

Local media outlets are reporting that residents can now go back to regular water usage.

Problems started earlier this week, following an order from health officials to restrict water use as rising temperatures and a rapid snow melt made the community's Oldman River murky.


GRASS FIRE ALERT: Record temperatures and dry conditions spark grass fire concerns in southern Alberta


That murkiness was making the water extremely difficult to treat. 

"Cause of this unprecedented water situation is extremely poor quality of raw water in River due to rapid spring snow melt & runoff," the city tweeted Thursday morning.

The city tweeted again early Friday, stating that the state of local emergency remains in place as well as a boil water order.

Staff were working around the clock, monitoring river conditions and the risk of water contamination, and says they were making positive gains at the water treatment plant.

When the ban was in place, people were asked to shorten showers, avoid using dishwashers and refrain from doing laundry for the time being. Pools and arenas were also closed on Wednesday in an effort to conserve water use. The city asked car washes and laundromats to remain closed on Thursday as well.

"This makes a difference to our water levels," officials said.

According to Doug Hawkins, Lethbridge's director of infrastructure, water conditions hadn't been this bad since 1995 when severe flooding hit the region.

"The organic material, dissolved material, that's in the raw water right now is unprecedented in terms of what we've seen in the past and had to deal with in the past," Hawkins said.

Earlier this week, an emergency alert was issued in response to the warming temperatures and spring runoff.

"Significant runoff is expected due to snowmelt," said Alberta Environment in an emergency alert on Monday. "This may cause localized overland flooding as the water makes its way into streams. Stream levels will rise due to the runoff and may also cause flooding."

With files from The Canadian Press

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