A key component of Estevan's planned growth – particularly on the north side of the community – is now open.
The grand opening for the new $8.1 million north water reservoir – which has a capacity of about six million litres or 1.3 million gallons – happened on November 29. Tours of the building allowed visitors to see how the reservoir operates, and why it is a much-needed addition for the community.
Water treatment plant/waste water treatment plant manager Kevin Sutter said there are several reasons that the reservoir was needed. The first is the long-standing water pressure difference between the northern half and the southern half of Estevan, thanks to the higher elevation of the north.
"All the pressure was created at the water tower, and then the water treatment plant," said Sutter. "So the residents on the north side of the city were lacking a bit of pressure. This facility will improve the pressures."
Estevan is now on a two-zone system for water supply.
Residents in the valley area in south Estevan have 90 pounds per square inch (psi) of water pressure, while those in some northern subdivisions have about 40 to 45 psi. The Estevan Comprehensive School is below 40 psi.
The two-zone system will result in higher water pressures in north Estevan, without affecting the pressures in the valley and other south Estevan neighbourhoods.
Residents should notice a difference in water pressure next year, he said.
The second water reservoir was needed for current and future developments in north Estevan – such as the Dominion Heights subdivision, the next stages of the Trojan subdivision and the developments in Estevan's northwest corner – to proceed.
Sutter noted that prior to the reservoir's opening, if anything happened at the water treatment plant, the community had enough water in storage to last about 24 hours.
"We had about 1.7 million gallons of water stored in the water tower," said Sutter. "The city of Estevan uses about 1.3 to 1.5 million gallons of water per day on average. On a hot summer day, we'd be well over two million gallons."
Some water needs to be kept in reserve for firefighting needs.
"The industry says two days of stored water is what you should shoot for, so we were well below that," said Sutter.
A fire at the water treatment plant in September created the potential for a water shortage. People were asked to ration the amount of water, as the water treatment system was out of commission for about eight hours.
The process of constructing a new water reservoir started in 2010. Associated Engineering was contracted for a full hydraulic analysis of Estevan's water distribution system, and new reservoir's the location – the intersection of Sister Roddy Road and Wellock Road in northwest – was selected.
The size of the city allowed them to transport water from the water treatment plant to the new reservoir without an additional pipeline, Sutter said, as they had an existing feed.
The detailed design phase allowed them to examine environmentally sound designs that could be put into place.
"We have variable speed drives which use as little electricity as required to maintain the pressure, and this whole building is heated and cooled with geothermal technology, utilizing the actual drinking water that is stored here to heat and cool the building," said Sutter. "There will hopefully be some cost-savings in the future by doing that."
Sutter said there had been occasions in the past in which communications and the control system at the water treatment plant had been lost, because they only had one device that controlled the whole water treatment system.
Technology at the new reservoir allows them to control the entire water treatment plant from the new reservoir.
"If the computer system blows up at the water treatment plant, the operator could come here and actually control everything for the water plant from here," said Sutter.
They can also monitor everything at the north reservoir from the water treatment plant, and starting next month, they'll be able to monitor the other water reservoir, too.
The reservoir has been operational since late October, and Sutter said it has been operating fairly smoothly. They had some issues that needed correction, and he expects that the facility will serve the community for many years.
The estimated $8.9 million north water reservoir project was funded with more than $1.5 million from the federal government's Gas Tax Fund. The remaining $7.4 million came from City of Estevan financing. An estimated $1.3 million of interest on the city's financing will be funded by the province's Saskatchewan Infrastructure Growth Initiative.
The budget for the project was about $10 million; that figure included, additions to the water treatment plant.
Souris-Moose Mountain MP Ed Komarnicki, Estevan MLA Doreen Eagles and Estevan Mayor Roy Ludwig were on hand for the grand opening, and all three said they were very pleased to see the project finished.