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Municipality disinfecting water system on accelerated schedule to lift Boil Water Advisory

(Fort McMurray, AB – May 14, 2020) – Fort McMurray residents will experience elevated chlorine levels in their water over the coming weeks while the Municipality pursues necessary steps to disinfect the potable water system from the impacts of the flood.  

“The goal here is to get fresh, clean drinking water as quickly as possible. That’s not going to happen without some temporary inconveniences,” said Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Matthew Hough. “Using chlorine to disinfect the water lines is necessary and is Alberta Environment and Parks’ approved method in order to restore the water system as quickly as possible.”

A higher than normal concentration of chlorine will be flushed through the water distribution system for approximately two weeks starting on Sunday, May 17. Water is safe to drink if boiled for a minute. The Boil Water Advisory remains in place.

What residents will experience

  • Crews flushing hydrants in their neighbourhoods.
  • High chlorine levels will increase the smell of chlorine in the water.
  • Discolouration may occur and is normal.
  • Water remains safe for bathing and non-consumptive use without boiling.

    What residents can do

  • Water can be safely consumed after a one-minute rolling boil.
  • To reduce the smell of chlorine, water can be boiled for longer or left on the counter or in the fridge overnight without a lid, so that the chlorine can evaporate/dissipate.

The Municipality will work with Alberta Health Services and coordinated supports from Alberta Environment and Parks to lift the Boil Water Advisory as soon as possible.

Reservoir cleaning

Crews have begun disinfecting the Thickwood and Timberlea reservoirs and will be working approximately 24 hours a day for up to a week. This will result in increased noise levels in nearby areas. The disinfection process will not impact water quality.

Crews will also be working at the lower town site reservoir (in Abasand) from May 16 through May 18.

Water charges 

On May 12, RMWB Council approved a reduction in water fees for residential and commercial users impacted by the boil water advisory, which includes the communities of Fort McMurray, Draper, Saprae Creek Estates, Anzac and Gregoire Lake Estates. The fixed meter size charge has been suspended for the duration of the boil water advisory or until Aug. 31, 2020. The variable rates applied to water usage are still in effect. These changes will be automatically applied to upcoming utility bills.

More information

Visit rmwb.ca/recovery for more information, including detailed FAQs. For general information about how to use water safely during a boil water advisory, please visit albertahealthservices.ca or call Health Link at 8-1-1. To learn more about Canadian drinking water guidelines, drinking water treatment requirements and treated water quality assurance, please visit https://www.alberta.ca/drinking-water.aspx.


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FLOOD RECOVERY: Information and resources