Water treatment to get $55-million upgrade

Red Deer’s water treatment plant will undergo a $55-million upgrade over the next several years to satisfy regulatory demands, improve reliability and safety, and meet the demands of the city and region.

Red Deer’s water treatment plant will undergo a $55-million upgrade over the next several years to satisfy regulatory demands, improve reliability and safety, and meet the demands of the city and region.

City council endorsed on Monday the third phase of improvements at the facility so it can have a capacity of 120 million litres a day in order to meet customer demands over the next two decades.

The original plant was built in the early 1980s with a capacity of 75 million litres a day for up to 80,000 people.

The first two phases of the upgrades are complete and involved meeting tighter regulatory standards.

This new phase is financed through debt and reserves. The cost is born through water utility rates.

Barry Vallance, with Associated Engineering in Calgary, said staffing requirements have significantly increased since the plant was first built.

And with new treatment systems in place, there’s a greater need for higher level of quality control. Plus, regulators require additional testing and reporting.

A $1.5-million cost will go into office and lab expansion.

As well, upgrades are needed to the chemical feed systems.

The plan is to switch to sodium hypochlorite from chlorine gas, which is the primary chemical disinfection process.

A number of plants are switching to this for environmental and safety reasons, Vallance said.

Some chemical systems are old and unreliable so they will be replaced and this should make a difference in taste and odour, particularly in the spring.

The chemical system upgrades will total $7.5 million, with completion set for 2013.

Third, the ancillary systems need improvements to the tune of $6.5 million. Completion is slated for 2013.

“The plant and raw water heating system needs to be replaced with a new hot water system,” Vallance said.

“This will not only improve the efficiency of that system, but will also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

As well, security fencing needs to be finished.

Fourth, the residuals management facility would be built for about $35 million. It would be finished by 2015.

The facility would involve onsite treatment prior to discharge into the Red Deer River.

Currently, sludge and chlorinated waste end up in the river.

The latest standards prohibit discharge of waste streams into a water body, unless it can be proven this would result in negligible environmental impacts.

“If I had my preference, it would be the quality and quantity of returns to the watershed that would be critical in deciding who should be allocated water licences,” said Councillor Tara Veer.

The final component of the program is to expand the backup power system by 2015 so the plant can run during an extended power outage, particularly a day or more.

This bill would run around $4.5 million.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com