$13m water treatment plant project gets underway
Contractor Westpro Infrastructure hoping to complete work in 14 months
A mighty water treatment plant will grow from the turning of a little sod — mighty enough to care for Barrhead’s needs for at least 25 years. Well, that’s the hope and the plan.
Against a background of men and machinery already at work, Barrhead Mayor Brian Schulz did the spadework on Tuesday afternoon to get the $13 million project officially under way at a site near Rosemary Empey Park.
Schulz, chairman of the Barrhead Regional Water Commission, raised a shovelful of soil and hailed a major milestone in the town’s efforts to get water of the highest quality.
Also wielding spades were county councillors Doug Drozd, commission vice-chairman, and Lawrence Miller, commission member; town councillor and commission member Don Smith; commission members Adolph Bablitz and Albert Mast; and Westpro Infrastructure’s construction manager for the Alberta Division, Pat Blais, who works out of Calgary.
It was Westpro – a British Columbia company providing services in such heavy civil construction as earthworks, sewer and water, and welded steel water main building – which won the bid for the project. The engineering company is DCL Siemens.
The upgrade will involve installing microfiltration and nanofiltration systems, which remove contaminants. A weir was recently put in place near the plant.
“This is a great step for Barrhead’s future to establish quality water to the residents of the town and those of the county,” said Schulz after the ground-breaking ceremony.
“It has been a privilege to work with the county in such a positive manner.”
Schulz said all members of the community would see the difference in the coming years with the high quality of water coming out of Barrhead.
He accepted the financial burden on the community was high, but added the municipality had been given little choice.
“The government regulations on water have changed over the years and because of this we have to update and upgrade our water system and the results of this endeavour will bring us up to the standards that our government requires.
Recently homeowners throughout the area saw significant rate rises. More increases are likely as the water commission aims to meet the rising provincial standards. Under the arrangement, the commission sells water to the town and county.
Commission manager John Van Doesburg said the completion date for the project was June 2013. The estimated cost was $13 million.
Doesburg said the filtration process being built was the Pall System.
“Once it is up and running people will notice the difference in the water,” he said. “It won’t have that earthy taste. Organic matter will have been removed.”
Blais said 12 men from Edmonton and Calgary were working at the site.
“We hope as the project proceeds we will employ people from Barrhead,” he said.
He added general labourers, carpenters and those with mechanical skills would probably be required.
The May 2000 tragedy in Walkerton, Ont., when seven residents died from drinking water infected with E. coli and hundreds suffered from symptoms of the disease, prompted the push for improved water quality across Alberta.
After a $3.5 million project to install a regional water transmission line from Barrhead to Neerlandia, new filtering technology was then tested at Barrhead’s water treatment facility, which draws its water from the Paddle River. The tests were part of a pilot project to see which filtration system could meet rising Alberta Environment water standards.
In February 2009 the town and county passed bylaws to become members of the Barrhead water commission. They approached the Department of Municipal Affairs in August 2009 to form the new body.
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