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State of emergency lifted in Lethbridge, Alta.

File photo

File photo

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Friday, March 14, 2014, 3:59 PM -

The local state of emergency that was declared in Lethbridge, Alberta on Wednesday has been lifted, thanks to cooperation from the public.

Authorities lifted a boil water order Friday afternoon and will be re-opening all public pools by the evening. Residents can now go back to regular water usage, according to a statement posted on the city's website.

"Thanks to the outstanding efforts from Water Treatment Plant staff and water conservation from all residents and businesses in Lethbridge and the surrounding communities, we are back to normal operations," the city announced on Friday.

SEE ALSO: Lethbridge, Alta boil water order lifted 

"Water reserves have been mostly restored and we are now able to meet the fire protection needs of all communities." 

While Lethbridge is now providing drinkable water to all affected residents, officials continue to recommend water conservation as a general practice.

"Conservation efforts throughout this event made a huge difference. We still request that discretionary water use be left for the rest of today," the city says. 

Problems started earlier this week as levels in the city's reservoir dipped critically low. An order from health officials to restrict water quickly followed as rising temperatures and a rapid snow melt made the community's Oldman River murky.

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.

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.

"Boil water orders are issued to ensure the safety of our community when harmful bacteria may be present in our drinking water," the city of Lethbridge says.

"As continued water monitoring has indicated that we are meeting water quality standards it is appropriate that the order be lifted." 

According to Doug Hawkins, Lethbridge's director of infrastructure, water conditions were comparable to 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.

Now that water services have been restored officials say that water may initially taste or smell different, but are reiterating that the water is safe.

Residents with health concerns are invited to call Health Link Alberta toll free at: 1-866-408-5465. 

With files from The Canadian Press

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