Monday November 24, 2014

EDITORIAL - Water treatment plant forward thinking


There was a ceremony held in the City Friday which most never bothered to attend. That’s fine ribbon cuttings are not mass audience affairs.

But in this case it did officially herald something of significance to Yorkton, the new water treatment plant on Queen Street.

For most of us water is not something we give a lot of thought too.

Sure some, being trendy as we tend to be, buy bottled water and by so doing contribute to the piles of plastic leaving their ever-lasting footprint on the environment.

But most of us contentedly go to the kitchen taps and turn them on knowing there will be a steady supply of safe drinkable water filling our glasses and cooking pots.

In terms of the world access to safe drinking water, it has always been paramount to survival. It is why most early civilizations clustered around the flowing waters of rivers and streams.

Rivers and streams are increasingly not safe sources, requiring the water to be extensively treated.

In Yorkton’s case the water is drawn from 16 wells within 10- kilometres of the city, drawing on five underground aquifers.

Even water from such wells require treatment. It’s not an overly complicated system, but still necessary.

Untreated water from the wells arrives at the new plant and is then aerated to oxidize the two most commonly found minerals in drinking water, iron and manganese. Oxidation is the conversion of the mineral to a more readily removable form, explained Michael Buchholzer, Director of Environmental Services with the City at the opening Friday. To treat the water two commonly used chemicals in water treatment, chlorine and potassium permanganate are used.

For those who toured the facility, the process was not particularly exciting, but the scale of the facility is impressive.

The water treatment plant can produce 22,000,000 litres of water per day.

The Queen Street Water Treatment Plant reservoir has a capacity of 18,000,000 litres.

The facility, with a cost of $33 million, making it the largest municipal project in Yorkton history, has been designed with a dual water flow system.

“This redundancy allows for maintenance on the system while continuing to meet demand,” said Buchholzer.

The modular design has also factored into future plans. Buchholzer explained the plant is designed to allow a third flow system, effectively increasing current treatment capacity by 50 per cent while still utilizing current water service lines and related infrastructure. That’s good thinking.

But in the end most residents will quickly forget about the plant. It will be a large building you might glance at while driving down Queen Street, but no one thinks regularly about what is behind the clean water at our taps. We just expect it to be there.

To this City’s credit the plant initiated in 2004, included public input through consultation, will assure that we have safe drinking water for decades to come.



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