Plans underway to keep Callander’s water crystal clear

Callander is making plans to keep the town’s water crystal clear. This past August, there was about a two-week period where some residents experienced discoloured water. Nobody wants that, and Callander councillors heard as much from many affected neighbours.

Manganese is the culprit, a mineral that naturally resides within the source water – Callander Bay, Lake Nipissing – and when this mineral gets into the system, discolouration occurs.

See: Callander continues to work toward clear water

“It’s a natural mineral, whatever the lake gives you is what we have to deal with,” summarized Paul Dyrda, of the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA), which oversees Callander’s water treatment plant. Dyrda presented to council this past Tuesday night to offer some solutions to deal with the issue.

His purpose was to provide a breakdown of what the water and sewage treatment plants will need over the next few years, so that council can take these into account while preparing the budget. For water treatment, Dyrda suggested putting aside $81,500 in the 2024 budget, and $75,000 for sewage.

This would include pump upgrades, a new elevated storage tank, and upgraded testing equipment. As far as reducing manganese, council is considering a trial run of adding potassium permanganate during peak manganese times – usually in summer’s hottest days, when the lake turns over.

Adding potassium to the mix reduces manganese, but comes in at around $25,000, which is included in the $81,500 budget suggestion. It won’t completely eliminate the manganese but will offer “a significant benefit to the treatment process overall.”

Council will take that into consideration.

Another idea Dyrda offered was to swab some of the older pipes in town. You send a thick sponge-like swab (about the same diameter as the pipe) into an older pipe and use water pressure to send it through. Think of it as “a scrubbing rather than a rinsing,” Dyrda offered. Flushing the pipes help remove the settled manganese in the pipes, but these swaps provide a better cleaning, they “scour the pipe walls.”

“It can really improve the quality of water in those pipes,” and “increase flow.” It usually takes a few swabs pushed through to finish the job. Main Street, part of Lansdowne, High Street and King Street are all possible candidates for a good swabbing.

How much is a good swabbing going for these days? Dyrda estimates the work would ring in at around $22,000. Council is considering.

See: Everything you wanted to know about Callander’s sewage lagoons

Another suggestion was to replace a generator used for wastewater treatment. Known as the ‘The Green Beast’ by those who deal with it, the machine is notorious for breakdowns and loathed for its eardrum blasting clangor while operating.

“A very old and unreliable generator,” the Green Beast is, and “very prone to failure.” Not only that, but due to the Beast’s age, it is “very difficult to find parts.”

The cost to add a new beast to the Municipality’s mechanical menagerie? Dyrda suggested council budget $75,000.

Council received the information and will take all of Dyrda’s points into consideration as they continue to work on the 2024 budget.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,