Most Canadians take their drinking water for granted, but for many residents in northern Saskatchewan, reliable, safe drinking water is a major issue. Such is the situation in the Town of La Ronge and the Northern Village of Air Ronge. Frequent power outages in these communities disrupt and jeopardize water and wastewater services. During a power disruption, government regulations require water utilities to shut down the water supply and issue a boil water advisory.
In 2014, the Town of La Ronge and Northern Village of Air Ronge retained Associated Engineering to lead the design and construction of upgrades that would allow them to keep their water supply and treatment systems running and the tap water flowing during power outages. The project encompassed 21 separate facilities – 18 sewage pump stations, two water pump stations, and a sewage treatment plant. Each facility had its own unique issues and operational history. The project demanded complex coordination and innovative solutions to stay within a strict budget.
Project Manager, Doug Thomson, tells us, “There was no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Because of the large number and different types of facilities, we identified dozens of potential solutions. We evaluated various types and sizes for electrical generators, and considered options for required mechanical, electrical, and building structure upgrades. We considered alternatives such as adding an external generator or adding a generator within an existing building. For eight of the most critical locations, the selected approach was an entirely new and expanded building to accommodate the equipment.”
One of the sites also required raising the building and surrounding components by one metre to avoid the risk of flooding during high-water levels in the Montreal River. Ultimately, each selected approach was based on cost, criticality, age or condition, and desired level of service.
The upgrades at La Ronge protect both the treated water supply and the environment, by helping to allay contamination concerns during power outages. Overall, the upgrades will more effectively deliver water to the community, and eliminate the need for the community to bring in bottled water.
Upgrades provide La Ronge and Air Ronge with secure water and sewer services
Effective planning during design resulted in completion of upgrades without impacting operation of the facilities. Doug advises, “Now when the power goes out, the water stays on.”
This project received the 2017 Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Saskatchewan Brian Eckel Award of Merit in the Municipal Infrastructure and Water Resources category.