Town’s water is safe to drink despite “earthy” smell, taste

Usually lasts three-to-six weeks

Town of Ponoka residents may have noticed a different taste or smell in their tap water lately.

Communications Manager Sandra Smith is reassuring residents that the water is safe and that the change in the water is a normal, annual occurrence due to spring runoff.

“In the spring, the snow melt causes high river flows which lead to higher river turbidity and increased organic materials in the water,” said Smith. “This can cause changes in the hardness, odour, taste and colour of your drinking water which can result temporarily in an earthy taste or smell to the water during the spring.”

The Town of Ponoka is one of five municipalities that are part of the North Red Deer Water Services Commission.

As a member of this commission, Ponoka receives treated, potable water from the City of Red Deer via a 50 km transmission line.

The water comes from the Red Deer River and is treated at the city’s water treatment plant.

“Due to the extensive water treatment in Red Deer and multiple layers of water testing that take place in Red Deer and Ponoka, you can be assured that your water is still safe to drink even though it may taste or smell differently in the spring.”

The water undergoes multiple steps to ensure quality and safety and it meets and exceeds acceptable limits outlined by Alberta Environment and the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, according to Smith.

The water is sampled and tested daily in Red Deer and is tested again when it arrives in Ponoka.

The Town of Ponoka tests the water every weekday for chlorine and organic particles.

Weekly water samples are also taken from various locations in town and tested for bacteria at a lab in Edmonton.

“The Town of Ponoka’s water meets and exceeds all federal and provincial environmental standards.”

To help improve the taste and smell, put the water in a pitcher and let it aerate, or try adding lemons or filtering the water through a consumer charcoal filter, says Smith.

According to, runoff conditions (the unusual taste and smell) lasts an average of three-to-six-weeks each spring.

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