If your tap water smells like chlorine, your schnozz has sniffed out a common springtime phenomenon in Edmonton. The spring thaw has made the city's drinking water more pungent than usual. Run-off from melting snow and river ice has washed higher than normal volumes of organic material into the water supply, said Shane Harnish, Epcor's senior manager of analytical operations. It's something workers at Edmonton's water treatment plants contend with every year. "What you're noticing is the chlorine smell in our water, and it's due to the chlorine reacting with some of this organic material," Harnish said in an interview Wednesday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.
Amber Sears removes a glass stopper from a beaker, gives the contents a swirl and takes a whiff.
The 23-year-old is a water lab technician and sniffing is her job.
"You're smelling for musty and earthy smells," Sears said. "That's what happens when the spring runoff happens, when the vegetation comes into the water."
She checks the scent wheel which offers descriptors like fishy, swampy and flowery. The wheel helps testers like Sears circle in on the aromatic analysis of our drinking water.