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LETTER: Human use at the Rundle Forebay raises concerns for Canmore's drinking water quality

Editor: Did you know that about half of Canmore's drinking water comes from the Rundle Forebay? I live on Hospital Hill, just below the Rundle Forebay, and regularly walk in that area.


Did you know that about half of Canmore's drinking water comes from the Rundle Forebay? 

I live on Hospital Hill, just below the Rundle Forebay, and regularly walk in that area. I have noticed a huge increase in the number of users at the beach on the west side entrance of the forebay, as well as the "beach" that is forming just below the Grassi Lakes trailhead. 

What really concerns me is the swimmers – both human and canine. This is our drinking water. 

I regularly see off-leash dogs swimming, but have rarely seen human swimmers before this year. Now, there are many. I wonder if the majority of citizens and visitors know that this is our drinking water?

According to Epcor's website: "primary water quality concerns are recreation activities and transportation spills."  

If the quality of our water decreases from the recreational activities of humans and dogs on the forebay, then Epcor needs to use more chemicals to purify the water for drinking. 

Swimmers also are usually lathered in sunscreen and bug dope, and that goes into our water, too. Yuck!

Having lived on both sides of town, there is a noticeable difference in the quality and taste of the water on the Cougar Creek side, which comes from groundwater (and is delicious), and the Three Sisters/downtown side which comes from the forebay and needs more chemicals. 

I look forward to the day when all of Canmore's water is equally delicious with minimal chemicals.  

There is a sign that says no swimming on the west, and busiest entrance, but it is old, faded and handmade. It is not respected. 

The closest human bathroom is over at the Nordic Centre, if people choose to walk that far. At the east entrance, along the Epcor maintenance road, there is signage that asks folks to scoop the dog poop, which is great, but doesn't say anything about humans or dogs swimming. 

There is no signage at all at the Grassi Lakes "beach." At Grassi Lakes, I counted 12 deposits of TP within about 50 metres of the parking lot and along the banks of the reservoir that is our drinking water. Citizens and visitors alike drink from this source.

I note that bathers are not allowed in the Glenmore Reservoir – Calgary's source of drinking water.  

Calgary's bylaws for the reservoir include: "No drinking of alcohol. No pets in water, on boats or on ice. Pets must be on leash at all times in the Glenmore Park and on the shore of the reservoir. No stand up paddle boards. No swimming in the reservoir. No inflatables. No power motors. No launching boats from undesignated shore areas."  

Respectfully, I request:

  • New signage to be posted at both entrances to the Rundle Forebay and at the Grassi Lakes "beach" that clearly say "Canmore drinking water – No Swimming" for both humans and canines.
  • Better signage about scooping poop, acceptable and non-acceptable activities, and location of washrooms at the Nordic Centre .
  • Educational signage with images that show that this is Canmore's drinking water. 
  • Increased enforcement of this site.

I hate to be a curmudgeon and ruin people's fun, but this is our drinking water. I think this is mostly an education issue. 

As Canmore grows and visitation increases, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Judy Archer,