Water treatment plant gets attention

The City of Swift Current has approved initial funding for a project to change the way backwash water at the water treatment plant is handled.

Councillors approved a motion at a regular council meeting on March 9 to appoint MPE Engineering Ltd. to prepare a design and do the tender and contract administration for the project.

The City sent out a request for proposals to three engineering firms, and MPE Engineering Ltd. submitted the lowest bid of $101,685.86 (PST included, GST excluded). A total amount of $600,000 was allocated in the 2020 capital budget for the water treatment plant residual management project.

The City needs to carry out this project to comply with Saskatchewan Water Security Agency (WSA) regulations for the collection and disposal of residual backwash water and chlorinated filter backwash water at the water treatment plant.

Chief Administrative Officer Tim Marcus said the City has been looking at various options to deal with the backwash water and they feel this plan will provide the most effective way to handle it.

“It’s been bandied back and forth for about four years,” he mentioned after the meeting. “We’ve had different solutions proposed, but at the end of the day this is the most effective one. It doesn’t require any extra work by anybody, because we’re just going to dump it in our sewer and let the wastewater treatment plant handle it.”

There is now some urgency to the completion of the project, because the City will have to comply with the guidelines for the treatment of the backwash water before WSA considers the renewal of the operating license for the water treatment plant in 2021. The intention therefore is to carry out the project during the 2020 construction season.

“The project to handle the backwash would be to bore underground from the water treatment plant to the area’s lift station, which is just on the other side of the Chinook Golf Course club house, and tie into that,” he said. “Then they would follow our regular sanitary sewer system, which eventually ends up at the wastewater treatment plant. The wastewater treatment plant would handle the residuals in terms of removing them from the water before the water goes back to the creek.”

The City’s current practice is to return the residual material in the backwash water to the creek when the filters have trapped a certain amount of material.

“We have a bunch of filters when we first take the water out of the creek and they remove a lot of the solids that are in the water,” he explained. “Until now the practise has been that when the filters are full or they need to be cleaned, we backwash them. We bring water in behind and pump it through the filter and push the residuals back into the creek where they came from.”

The residual material in the backwash water can vary from fine particles to leaves in the fall and any other items stopped by the filters at the water treatment plant.

“Sometime ago the regulations changed and then the Water Security Agency did not want us to put the impurities we removed from the water back into the creek anymore,” he said. “They wanted us to handle them in another manner.”

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