New water treatment plant soon to be operational

·4 min read

Niverville’s water utility services have made some significant strides this summer with the near-completion of a $5-million-dollar project located along Fifth Avenue South. The new water treatment plant is expected to be fully operational sometime before the spring of 2023.

According to Ryan Dyck, manager of the town’s Operations Department, rapidly increasing water usage is the reason the current plant, now more than a decade old, is already obsolete.

“It simply can’t filter the water fast enough to keep up with current demand,” Dyck says.

The new facility is monolithic in scale compared to the old plant located on the same site. Dyck says that’s for good reason.

“The equipment is bigger and there is room for expansion,” he says. “We are trying to plan 20 to 30 years ahead. Our existing plant is only 14 years old and is too small already.”

Eric King, the town’s CAO, says it’s all part of proactively planning for future surges in population. The new plant, he explains, will service up to 15,000 customers. Based on current growth trends, this means the new plant should have water treatment capacity to take the community into the year 2040.

It’s not just new population growth to be considered, though. Dyck adds that there’s still about 700 homes in the older developments of Niverville that aren’t hooked up to the treatment plant. Instead they are fed from individual wells.

The inevitable installation of underground infrastructure to these parts of town, Dyck says, will result in a fairly dramatic increase in water usage.

In terms of the treatment plant, Dyck isn’t concerned that extended periods of drought will affect water availability. It’s anybody’s guess, though, as to how long the town can count on its current wellfield, located east of town, to continue to meet demand.

Between 2014 and 2018, Niverville residents using treated water were frustrated time and again with council-legislated water bans. The problem, they found, was not with the treatment plant but with the poor water supply.

By the summer of 2018, the town had invested $2.5 million into pipelines running from a new well site near New Bothwell. Half of this cost was subsidized by the province.

The large new treatment plant will work in collaboration with the old plant, which will continue to act as a pumphouse, getting water out to its many users.

King says that the water rates charged to customers are needed to manage the cost of operations and maintenance, not to cover the capital costs of the building and equipment. Thus, town residents need only expect typical inflationary increases in the coming months.

The filtration system inside the new plant is unique to Manitoba. Biofiltration is a relatively new technology and Landmark is the only other nearby community that has converted to the system.

“The reasoning biofiltration was chosen for this expansion was for its ability to remove iron and manganese in the water,” says Dyck. “Reverse osmosis filters out most impurities from the water, but to get the desired hardness and mineral content in the finished treated water, a portion of the unfiltered well water needs to bypass the filtering process. This bypassed water has naturally high iron and manganese content which settles out, causing rust stains on fixtures and rusting on metal. With the biofilters, most of the iron and manganese will be removed from this bypassed water, making the water even more aesthetically pleasing than it currently is.”

The town currently employs two staff members with certification in water treatment plant management. A third staffer is working towards the completion of their certification and a fourth person, Dyck says, will be needed down the road.

“The province mandates that all water plant operators take schooling, write exams, as well as take ongoing training to gain and maintain water plant operator certification,” says Dyck. “They want to ensure that the people running these plants understand water quality and how to make the necessary adjustments to ensure that end users get safe… potable water.”

Courses are offered at Red River College Polytechnic. Up to four levels of certification are offered. However, with Niverville’s water treatment system, level two certification is all that is required.

Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Niverville Citizen

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