Spring Lake Water Health

Environmental Public Health - Water Sample Bottle Pick-up and Drop-off
Provided by: 
Alberta Health Services - Provincial Health Services

Stan Woloshyn Building
Telephone: 1-833-476-4743 (Intake)
205 Diamond Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta T7X 3A8


Monday             8:00 AM-4:30 PM Walk-in / Drop In Service
Tuesday             8:00 AM-4:30 PM Wheelchair Accessible
Wednesday       8:00 AM-4:30 PM Interpreter/Translation services
Thursday           8:00 AM-4:30 PM  
Friday                8:00 AM-4:30 PM RELATED SUBJECTS
* Closed from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM daily Public Health Issues
  Tap Water Testing
Public Health Desk Sample Drop-off Days: Water Quality Assurance
Monday to Wednesday before 12:00 PM noon.  
* Collect the sample the same morning you submit it. KEY PROVIDERS MAY INCLUDE
  public health inspectors
water testing bottles (Other), testing water (Other)  


Water Conservation Practices

What is Water Conservation?

Water conservation is the practice of using water efficiently to reduce unnecessary water usage. According to Fresh Water Watch, water conservation is important because fresh clean water is a limited resource, as well as a costly one. As a homeowner, you’re probably already well aware of the financial costs of inefficient water use. Conservation of this natural resource is critical for the environment — and our wallets.



Do Collect Rain water

Avoid  Cutting trees

Do Plant drought resistant plants,  shrubs, trees

Avoid  Messing with water sources eg: ponds, lakes, wells

 Do Use mulch to retain moisture around trees and shrubs

Avoid  Letting water run while brushing teeth, shaving, rinsing dishes

Do Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation

Avoid  letting taps drip or toilets run

 Do Use direct watering to the roots

Avoid  Flushing toilets after every use

Do Reuse water when you can eg: wash fruits and vegetables in a basin, then use the water to water house plants

 Avoid Using the garden hose for outdoor cleaning, use a broom

Do Shower vs bathing

Avoid Letting any leak go unattended

Do Insulate water pipes to reduce heat loss

Avoid Using a garbage disposal unit, compost instead

Do Take a water wells workshop

Avoid Installing ornamental water features unless they recirculate water

 Do Install a low flow, dual flush toilet

 Avoid Fertilizing during a dry spell

Do  Use a displacement device in toilet tank to cut down on water used if it is not a low flow toilet

Avoid Over fertilizing your lawn if you do fertilize

Do Start composting 

Avoid planting during peak dryness

 Do Water early or late in the day and water longer and deeper. This uses less water in the long term

Avoid Worring if your lawn turns brown during extreme heat, this is a dormancy period rather than a dead lawn

 Do Pull all weeds in lawn and garden

Avoid Letting weeds get a hold in your garden, they steal needed moisture

Do Trim dead leaves and flowers

Avoid Planting specialty plants that need extra water

Do Check your well pump regularly

Avoid Running partial loads of dishes/clothes

Do Keep drinking water in the fridge

Avoid  Running water to get cold for drinking

Do Use energy efficient appliances

Avoid Watering lawns vs trees or shrubs in extreme heat

Do Cut your grass higher (3” or higher)

Avoid Using the toilet as a garbage can

Do water only lawn and garden not sidewalk

Avoid Using a running hose to wash your car

10 Easy Water Conservation Tips

Water conservation is the practice of using water efficiently to reduce unnecessary water usage. According to Fresh Water Watch, water conservation is important because fresh clean water is a limited resource, as well as a costly one. As a homeowner, you’re probably already well aware of the financial costs of inefficient water use. Conservation of this natural resource is critical for the environment — and our wallets.

These 10 water-saving tips will put you on the path to conserving water in your household.
1. Put a brick in your toilet’s water tank. You flush an average of 20 gallons of water a day down the toilet. If you don’t have a high-efficiency toilet, try filling your tank with something that will displace some of that water, such as a brick.
2. Use the right amount of water for each load of laundry. Typically 15-40 percent of indoor home water use comes from doing laundry. Save water by making sure to adjust the settings on your machine to the proper load size.
3. Pick your washing machine wisely. When considering top-load vs. front-load washers, front-loading washing machines generally use less water.
4. Water plants wisely. Water your lawn or garden early in the morning or late in the evening, so the water lasts and is not immediately evaporated by the hot sun.
5. Install a low-flow showerhead. With a low-flow showerhead, you can save 15 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower.
6. Check for and repair leaks. An average of 10,000 gallons of water is wasted every year due to household leaks. One of the most effective ways to cut your water footprint is to repair leaky faucets and toilets.
7. Use a dishwasher. Dishwashing accounts for less than 2 percent of indoor water use, but using a machine is actually more water-efficient than hand washing, especially if you run full loads. ENERGY STAR® dishwashers save about 1,600 gallons of water over its lifetime of use.
8. Turn off the water. Teach your whole household to turn off the faucet while brushing teeth or shaving. Every little bit of water conservation helps!
9. Defrost food in the fridge. Instead of running frozen foods under hot water from the faucet, build in time to let them defrost in the refrigerator.
10. Manage outdoor water use. Don’t forget about water conservation outside as well. Equip all hoses with shut-off nozzles, which can prevent hose leaks.

What Are Some Other Methods for Water Conservation?
There are numerous ways we can conserve water to benefit ourselves and the planet. The following are various methods for water conservation that can be implemented to reduce our water footprint.

Redistributing Water 
Not only does redistribution of water reduce waste, but it also delivers water to areas that need it during times of water shortages and drought. To redistribute water, excess water storage collected from canals, irrigation systems, and pipes must be transported and redistributed where necessary. 

Modernizing Irrigation Methods 
If the agricultural industry were to update to modern irrigation methods, they could save thousands of gallons each year, making their systems more water-efficient. Modern irrigation methods like drip irrigation reduce runoff waste and evaporation, thus conserving water.  

Grey Water Recycling 
Grey water recycling is one of the easiest ways to conserve water. Essentially, grey water recycling saves used wastewater from showers, kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, and washing machines to water plants, flush toilets, and water grass. If you use grey water for these tasks, you can reduce by up to 70 liters of domestic potable water usage.  

Rainwater Harvesting 
One of the most effective methods is to harvest rainwater to replenish groundwater levels and conserve natural water. During this water conservation method, you will collect rainwater and allow it to percolate into a reservoir or bottomless pit. When this is done, the water seeps through the ground and improves the groundwater table.  

Installation of Water Meters 
Consider installing a water meter at your home or business to reduce water wastage. Water meters measure how much water is used and let you know when you have a water leak which you can discern if your water bill is higher than usual one month. It can also help you determine what you can do to use less water.  

Increase Forest Cover 
If we fight deforestation and increase forest cover by planting more trees, we can reduce the amount of rainfall lost because of evaporation. Reducing the amount of rain lost also helps to conserve groundwater.  

Additionally, since trees are far more drought tolerant than other plants, we can protect our water sources from disappearing by planting more trees alongside natural reservoirs and river beds.  

Information Source: Home Water

Focus on Composting

How does composting work?
Composting works when optimal conditions necessary are present to speed up the natural decomposition of organic matter. Decomposition happens when decomposer organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and others feed on the carbon and nitrogen in the organic material and then produce a humus-like excrement. But the decomposer organisms don’t do it all alone. Other organisms that help the decomposition process include protozoa, mites, beetles, earthworms and more. All of these organisms are found naturally in soil. Some prey on the microorganisms, while others decompose the food waste directly. In addition to needing sources of carbon and nitrogen, the organisms also require oxygen and water to live.

When the decomposer organisms have optimal living conditions (correct food ratio, water, oxygen, and temperature) they are able to decompose the organic material more efficiently, speeding up the decomposition process. This may sound very complex, but Marjorie Lamb, in her book Two Minutes for a Greener Planet, sums up composting as: “Mix organic materials in a pile with some dirt. Keep moist. Turn occasionally.”

How do I Compost?
1. Feed your Bin:
Mix Browns and Greens. To compost effectively, a good mix of “browns” and “greens” is needed. Materials high in carbon are known as “browns” and those high in nitrogen are “greens.” Both types of materials are needed to create an efficient compost process. As a general rule, you can add materials to the pile in a ratio of one part ‘brown’ material to one part ‘green’ material. Fresh grass clippings are an example of a green material with a high nitrogen content. Dead leaves, and even well-dried grass clippings, are a good example of a brown material with a high carbon content. The concept of browns and greens is also useful in solving problems with a compost pile. 

What Should I Feed My Compost?
Greens (source of nitrogen) Browns (source of carbon) Fruit and vegetable materials Chopped yard waste Chopped vegetable stems Straw Houseplants Stale bread or cereal Coffee grounds and filters Cardboard Tea and tea bags Dried leaves Grass clippings Sawdust (not pine or cedar) Hair Paper (black and white, shredded) Other materials - Crushed eggshells (source of calcium)

  • If starting out, add stale bread or cereal in small quantities until you have some experience monitoring your compost pile.
  • Chopping material into smaller pieces creates more surface area and is recommended if you want to speed up the composting process. If you are not concerned about time, then chopping is not necessary.

What Should I NOT Feed My Compost?
Do not add materials that will take a long time to decompose, will attract pests or that may contaminate your finished compost.

  • Meat, bones, fish scraps – they can attract dogs, cats, rodents and insects, and decompose slowly.
  • Oily, fatty materials, cheese and dairy products – oils and grease take a long time to break down and their coating effect inhibits the breakdown of other materials. These products also attract insects.
  • Pet droppings – may contain disease organisms pathogenic to humans.
  • Diseased plants – the heat of the compost pile may not kill the disease organisms or the insects or eggs infecting the plant.
  • Weeds – the heat from the pile may not be high enough to deactivate seeds and shoots from weed plants.
  • Dishwater – like oils and grease, this will slow down the process.
  • Treated wood – wood might be treated with preservatives that contain antimicrobial properties, and can hinder the composting process.
  • ​​​​​​​Colored paper – may contain chemicals undesirable in household compost.

2. Manage Your Environmental Factors

In addition to having a good balance of nitrogen (greens) and carbon (browns), there are four environmental factors to consider when composting. Let your pile breathe Composting is an aerobic process. To work properly, a compost pile needs oxygen. Without oxygen, the process will become anaerobic and will to produce unwanted by-products such as methane gas. To ensure a pile has enough oxygen, it is necessary to physically turn the materials on a regular basis (once or twice every couple of weeks) or provide some form of static aeration (see Holding Bin: Static Pile Composting Method, pg. 5).

Manage your temperature
Heat is one of the by-products of composting. As the process moves along, the pile will heat due to the action of the decomposers (the microorganisms).

Heat indicates that the microbes in the pile are working. If the pile is too small, the heat produced will be lost to the outside air and the process will take a long time to complete. As a general guideline, a pile should be a minimum of one cubic metre in size to sustain the process. If you want to monitor the temperature of your pile you can use a compost thermometer– a good working pile should be around 50o C at the most active phase of the compost process.

If the pile gets too hot – above 60o C – the process will naturally slow down on its own. If you don't have a thermometer, you can feel the heat with your hand or, if that's too messy for you, stick in a metal rod. After ten minutes, pull out the rod and test if it feels warm. In Alberta, winters are far too cold for small backyard composters to be active year-round. While there may be some activity in your compost, it will be minimal and won't produce the heat it will in summer. But keep adding material in winter and come spring, it will decompose more rapidly with a few turns of the pitchfork! Read more about winter composting on pg.

Manage Your Moisture
Moisture is required to supply nutrients to the microorganisms in the process. At the right moisture content, the composting material should feel “as wet as a wrung-out sponge.” Too much moisture will cut off the supply of oxygen to the pile and cause the pile to go anaerobic. Too little moisture will cause the process to take a long time, or may even stop. Remember, the organisms living in the compost need to be "fed and watered!"

Manage Your Particle Size
Particle size is related to the surface area of the materials in the pile. The greater the surface area of the particles available for bacteria to digest, the easier it is for them to break them down, and the faster the process will occur. Most particles should range from one to five cm. Branches and wood chips may be slightly larger, and can range from three to eight cm, but due to their composition, they will take longer to decompose. However, you can always practice "lazy composting", and not chop up material before you add it to the pile. It will eventually decompose, it just may take longer!

Place Your Composter Carefully
The composter should be in a sunny or semi-sunny site. Sunlight will help add heat to the pile. The site should be level and well drained. Most importantly, the pile should be easily accessible. If it is not in a convenient spot, you won't use it.

3. What Type of Composter Should I Use?
There are many types of compost bins. It is important to consider your lawn and gardening needs and the amount of organic wastes you have to compost. Also, are you more comfortable with purchasing or building your compost bin? In reality, composting will occur whether you place materials in a bin or in an open pile.

In an urban setting, however, you are advised to use a bin to reduce chances of the compost being spread by pets, and also to contain any odors, should they arise. In a rural setting, wildlife may stop by, but it doesn't usually present the problem it could cause in a town or city (unless it's bears).

Buying a Composter
Commercially available composting units have the advantage of being durable and efficiently designed. Some commercial composters are made from recycled materials. Depending on your needs and budget, you can choose from a variety of designs. Remember that the compost should be turned on a regular basis, so it is helpful if you can reach into the bin with a pitchfork.

Building a Composter
If you wish to build your own composter, many simple designs are available. The reference books at the end of the article are a good source for information on different designs.

Some Points to Consider:
Consider using scrap materials to lower costs and conserve resources.

  • Make the composter about one cubic metre in size. If you are making a multi-sectioned compost bin, each unit should be about one cubic metre in size.
  • Allow for drainage to prevent water from collecting at the bottom of the bin.
  • Make the composter vermin-proof by lining the sides and bottom of the bin with 1.25 cm (½ inch) wire mesh.

Holding Bin:
Static Pile Composting Method The holding method is suitable for the gardener who is not in a hurry to get finished compost; this compost can take 6 months to 2 years to finish. This method requires less maintenance than the turning method (described later), since the organics are simply layered and left to decompose.

  • Place a layer of bulky yard waste, such as straw or twigs, on the bottom of the unit to provide aeration. Moisten the material if it is dry. This layer sets the stage for composting.
  • Add any of the organic materials described earlier. Layering materials of different densities will increase air circulation.
  • As you add the material, occasionally sprinkle a shovelful of soil on the layers. The microorganisms in the soil help to activate the compost process.
  • Check the compost for moisture and add water as necessary. It should be as moist as a damp sponge.

4. Materials
The holding unit can be built as a four-sided, rectangular box that is open at the top and bottom. Build the frame of this unit with 2 x 4s to provide strength. Lightweight strips of wood, such as discarded snow fencing, may be used for the cross braces. Use a construction stapler to attach a fine wire mesh, such as chicken wire, to the sides of the frame. Make a detachable cover for the bin using canvas or polyethylene that will not degrade in the sun. Covering the bin protects the compost from animals and weather.

One Bin: Turning Composting Method
The same bin can be used as described in the Holding Bin: Static Pile Composting Method. As with the holding method, start by placing a layer of bulky or coarse yard waste on the bottom of the unit to provide aeration. Moisten this base material if it is dry. Alternate materials of different densities. Each layer should be about 15 cm (five inches) thick. For example, small chunks of vegetable waste should be layered alternately with uncompacted material, such as plant stalks. Sprinkle in some soil after every 25 to 30 cm (10 to 12 inches) of new material that you add. The natural organisms in the soil aid the composting process. Use a pitchfork to mix the compost every week or two. This allows air to circulate, enhances the decomposition process, and prevents odours from developing. Mix the pile so the outer layers are placed in the centre, and vice versa. This supplies air and new material to the composting organisms.

When adding new material, dig a hole in the pile and bury it under the partially composted material. This will help minimize odours and attraction of flies or other pests. Every time you turn the pile, check the moisture of the materials and add water or drier materials as necessary. Maintain the pile so that it retains a sponge-like dampness. If the compost is slimy looking and smells sulphurous (like rotten eggs), mix in dry yard waste (browns) and leave the cover off to reduce the moisture content. If it becomes too dry, sprinkle water on the pile and mix.

After the first batch of compost has partially decomposed, you will want to start a second batch of compost for adding fresh materials. This will give the first batch time to stabilize and mature. You can fork the first batch of compost into a separate area, and return any unprocessed material to the original bin. Cover the pile to protect it from frost and rain. If the pile gets too wet, it will cool, and slow or even halt the composting process.

Multiple Bin: Turning Composting Method
The turning method of composting using multiple bins is suitable for households with a large amount of material to compost. The recommended unit is a three sided box that is one cubic metre in size, open at the top and bottom, with one or two additional sections beside it. If you don’t know how much compost you will have, start with just one section and attach additional sections as required. Use the same composting method outlined in the “One Bin: Turning Composting Method” section.

Bin Materials
One inexpensive and convenient construction method is to use discarded pallets. Pallets are the right size. They are slatted, which allows for ventilation and they can serve as pre-built walls for the bin. You will need seven pallets for a triplesectioned unit (depending on the pallet size). You will also need a cover for the bin, and stakes to keep the unit secure. You may wish to add planks to the front of the composting sections to further contain the material. If you lash the pallets together with hook and eye assemblies you will be able to disassemble the bin and move it easily. Or, if you prefer, use nails or screws to fasten the boards or pallets together.

Helpful Hints


  • Crush or shred bulky material to speed up decomposition.
  • If the compost is too cold, add materials, such as grass clippings, that are high in nitrogen. Add new composting material if the pile is only warm in the centre. A one-cubic metre compost pile is ideal. Consult a gardening or composting book to fine-tune the process.
  • Don’t let the pile get too wet. Cover the pile to help control moisture from precipitation or frost.
  • If it becomes too wet or slimy, the pile may begin to smell sulphurous (like rotten eggs). Simply turn it and add new brown material.
  • If the pile begins to smell sharp, like ammonia, it means the nitrogen level is too high. Mix in some brown material to correct this problem.
  • If your compost pile has too much carbon (browns), the pile will not heat quickly and the composting process will be very slow. Add nitrogen-rich materials (greens) to help speed up the process.
  • Eggshells do not fully decompose in the composting process; it is normal to see eggshells in finished compost.
  • If you live in bear country, take usual bear precautions.
  • To prevent odours, turn the pile every week or two. This provides the composting material with sufficient air. It is also helpful to cover the pile with a layer of browns to help decrease odour.

In Winter
Unprocessed compost that is left at the end of summer can be composted the following spring; just let it freeze in the compost bin. While composting comes to a halt in Alberta winters, that doesn’t mean that you have to throw away kitchen scraps. These can be safely left to freeze outside in a sealed garbage bin or, directly in a compost pile for the winter. In the fall, if you have many leaves and no separate bin for them, just place them in a contained area and shred them with a weed trimmer or lawn mower. While shredding isn't necessary, it creates more surface area, speeding decomposition once added to the compost pile.

When you start again in the spring, intersperse layers of the old, "unprocessed" material with new material. You may want to speed up the decomposition of leaves by adding high nitrogen materials, the 'greens.'

Vermicomposting - composting using worms - is another way of dealing with organic waste during the winter, or year-round in an apartnment, condominium or office setting. You can find more information about vermicomposting in the “Taking Action Through Vermicomposting to Reduce Kitchen Waste” booklet.

Finishing Up
Finished compost is dark, lightweight and earthy-smelling. It should be difficult to recognize most of the original material. Finished compost – even when it has been recently turned – will be cold to the touch. Remove the finished compost and return any undecomposed materials, along with any large chunks, to the bin for processing. Small chunks of vegetation in the compost can be dug into your garden. But be careful, if you apply unfinished compost to your garden, it could rob your garden of necessary nutrients, as the energy will go to further decompose your compost, and byproducts of the composting process may do more harm than good to your garden seeds and plants.

To ensure your compost is finished, let it sit over the winter months. Come spring, give it a few turns to aerate it, and it should be ready for you to dig into your spring plantings. Screening the Compost Compost may be screened to separate the finished compost from some of the bulkier materials in the pile. A simple screen can be constructed out of a wooden frame and chicken wire or other similar wire. This screen can be placed on a wheelbarrow, and the compost spread over the screen. Bulkier material will stay on top of the screen and can be mixed back into the compost pile for further decomposition.

Using your Compost
Compost can be used in numerous ways around your home. The finished product can be mixed in the soil, used as mulch, or thinly applied to your lawn to add nutrients. The amount you use in your garden can vary; a layer of 2 to 5 cm (¾" to 2") of compost to the soil every couple of years will provide long term benefits for plant growth. Always remember that compost is not a replacement for soil, and plants may have difficulties growing in too much compost.

Do not plant in 100% compost. A good ratio is 1/3 compost to 2/3 soil.

For the entire article, please read the PDF below.

Focus On Composting is published by:
Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development under Crown Copyright. This material may be freely copied for educational use provided the source is acknowledged.

Last update: April, 2006.

For more information or to order additional copies, please contact:
Alberta ESRD - Information Centre
Main Floor, Great West Life
9920-108 St NW Edmonton AB T5K 2M4

Pub No. I/994 ISBN 0-7785-3918-0 (Printed Edition)
ISBN 0-7785-3920-2 (On-line Edition)


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