Hikers and bikers will have to give up a portion of their trail system so the City of Red Deer can start building new intake for its water treatment plant.
People accustomed to using the trail that runs behind the water plant at the west side of downtown will be temporarily diverted to the opposite riverbank via Taylor Drive and the pedestrian bridge located downstream on the former ACR rail trestle, said parks superintendent Trevor Poth.
The annual Woody’s RV spring marathon, set for the May long weekend, will be rerouted as well.
City officials felt it was going to be too dangerous to allow cyclists and pedestrians to travel through the area during construction because there will be an increase in heavy equipment working there, Poth said during a lightly-attended public information meeting held on Wednesday evening.
On the up side, the construction costs include landscaping, widening and improving site lines on that section of trail, so it will be nicer and safer once completed, he said.
Weather permitting, construction starts on the $17 million project starts next week and should be finished late next year, said Gordon Ludtke, environmental planning engineer for the city.
Ottawa and the Alberta government are each providing $2.3 million with the balance to come from the water utility, said Ludtke.
To be located on the riverbank directly south of the existing site, the new intake will triple the amount of water that can be brought into the plant, said Ludtke.
The existing intake, painted bright orange and located in the middle of the river, is a familiar site for boaters and rafters who sometimes stop there for sunbathing and other activities, said engineer Coenraad Pool, employed with Associated Engineering in Calgary.
The new intake will be equally accessible, but much less friendly to unauthorized users, said Pool.
Gordon Ludtke said that adding a second intake accomplishes two goals.
First of all, it will allow the city to increase the capacity of its water treatment plant, which now serves a number of customers in the region as well as city needs.
The existing intake has a maximum capacity of 90 million litres per day, enough to fill 90 swimming pools the size of the outdoor pool at the Rec Centre.
The new intake adds 197.5 million litres to that capacity.
Secondly, it will meet new environmental standards for preventing fish and other aquatic animals from being sucked into the water treatment system.
A constantly-revolving screen will keep larger fish out while small fish will be pumped back into the river, said Pool.
The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans prescribes a system in which 10 per cent of water taken in diverts back to the river, he said.
Red Deer resident Sam Denhaan, one of a handful of people who attended the meeting, said he came mainly out of interest, stemming to his former employment with a public works department in the Northwest Territories.
Denhaan said moving the intake to the riverbank will have some implications down the road, as the river shifts back and forth in its channel.
The existing intake is in the centre of the river, so is not as vulnerable to such changes, said Denhaan.
Placing the new intake on the bank means the city will have to ensure that the river stays on its current course to supply the treatment plant, he said.