A large sign has been erected in the Red Deer River, warning boaters of the construction ahead.
Booms and buoys also float on the river near the Taylor Bridge — all part of the construction of a $22-million new residuals management facility that will remove impurities from treated water before it’s released back into the river.
The mid-water construction signs are a necessity since “whenever you do construction on the river, it’s like a roadway, so you have to put a sign on it,” said Tom Marstaller, the city’s environmental planning superintendent.
The new residuals facility is being built beside the city’s existing water treatment plant at the directive of Alberta Environment.
According to new provincial standards, “all residuals must be removed before we are allowed to discharge into the river,” said Marstaller.
By getting Alberta municipalities to remove impurities from the water that’s released back into rivers, the province hopes to preserve aquatic life.
“The idea is to have cleaner river water.
“It’s a wonderful thing,” said Marstaller, to return water to the river without the sediments and chemical build-up that are part of the process of getting clean drinking water to Red Deerians.
Although sand particles come in through the city’s water intake system, along with water that’s eventually treated for our consumption, putting this sediment back into the river in one spot can cause the kind of siltation that’s bad for fish life, said Marstaller.
Sand will, therefore, be collected at the residuals facility, along with chemicals used in the water treatment process and to remove colour from river water. Marstaller said this residue will later be landfilled.
The new treatment facility is being constructed with pre-fab walls and in-ground discharge pipes that will run under the riverbed.
Marstaller anticipates construction to be completed by next May or June. The residuals management process is expected to begin in June 2021.