The City of Estevan was forced to issue a conserve water advisory on September 20 due to an electrical fire in the main disconnect area of the water treatment plant.
The advisory remained in place until the morning of September 22.
Water treatment plant manager Kevin Sutter said the damage from the fire was contained to the electrical room. The motor starters and electrical switch gear sustained damage. “From the time the fire started, we had to shut down operations until the fire department did their work and relinquished the plant back to us,” said Sutter. “At that time we assessed the damage.”
Nobody suffered serious injuries in the fire, but the fire forced the conserve water advisory in the afternoon of the 20th. The damaged switch gear was bypassed so that power could be restored to the plant's critical equipment.
The plant was up and running again by 2 a.m. on September 21.
But the advisory continued on the 21st, so that workers could make sure that all the necessary equipment would run. They also needed to know that the plant could meet the needs of the community.
“Once that was accomplished on Saturday (September 21), we ran the plant for Saturday night until the reserves were filled, and then we lifted the request for conservation,” said Sutter.
During the conserve advisory, people were asked to avoid watering lawns and gardens, washing clothes or washing vehicles. The City also asked the public to take showers less than three minutes in length, to not take baths, to turn the faucet off when brushing their teeth or shaving, and to flush toilets a minimum number of times.
Sutter said the City didn't have to contemplate a boil water advisory, because they could still pump the water. But there was a risk of depleting the City's water reserves.
“We had enough water in reserves that lasted until we had all the repairs done,” said Sutter.
The City has a one million gallon reservoir underground, and the water tower contains another 750,000 gallons. It's enough water to sustain 24 hours of normal water usage in Estevan, and to have some water left over for fire protection needs.
Once the new water reservoir is on-line – a day that is coming soon, Sutter said – the City will have another 24 hours of water reserves.
“We definitely appreciate everything that everybody did to minimize their water use,” Sutter said.
Sutter said they are waiting for the insurance adjusters and other investigators to finish their work so that they can find out what caused the fire. The bypass of the switching gear will continue, and the switch gear will eventually have to be replaced.