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Water Today Title December 15, 2017

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Last updated August 5, 2015
Boil or bring your own water in Alberta
With the Rockies on its western flank, Alberta has hundreds of provincial parks and recreational areas managed by Alberta Parks. On the whole, Alberta Parks is far more concerned about bears, avalanches, unsafe trails and white nose syndrome in bats advisories than drinking water. This is rugged country for rugged campers.

This summer however, the low levels of water across Alberta have been more of an issue. With low snowpacks and an unusually dry spring, water levels in many Alberta rivers are lower than they have been in 14 years. This has led to "Limited Water Available" advisories in some provincial parks, notably Park Lake, Little Bow and Whynham Carseland.

With regards to drinking water, a search of Alberta Parks' website reveals that in the majority of parks or recreation areas, campers are advised that 'Water is available from a hand pump at this site. Although Alberta Parks strives to maintain water quality, we recommend that you bring your own drinking water'. To find out which parks have no drinking water available, use the search on Alberta Parks, asking for 'bring your own water'.

As for private campgrounds, inns, hotels, restaurants, rv parks and resorts, the province of Alberta not only does not report on the quality of their drinking water, the water systems themselves are not regulated. Like gas stations, institutions, offices, schools, they are considered either individual or community small drinking water systems and do not require approval under the EPEA. According to the province's 2009 Environment’s Drinking Water Program

"They represent approximately 90 per cent of all systems across the province, however only serve approximately 20 per cent of the population." That's some 750,000 people, a number that would likely swell during the summer holidays.

So, best to "bring your own water", or assume that you will be boiling it, when vacationing in Alberta.

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