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Wednesday, Jan 05, 2022

Saskatoon Southeast Water Supply System Canal upgrades help meet modern standards and increase overall canal capacity

completed canal with irrigation turn-out

The Water Security Agency is responsible for managing water resources to ensure safe drinking water sources and reliable water supplies in the province of Saskatchewan. Over the past decade on the M1 Canal project, the Water Security Agency has been rehabilitating and upgrading the capacity of their water supply canals surrounding the Town of Outlook in west central Saskatchewan, southwest of Saskatoon.

This work was led by another consulting engineering firm, with different reaches being completed each winter. Associated Engineering has been heavily involved on other projects for the Water Security Agency. Valuing this relationship, the Water Security Agency asked Associated Engineering to provide assistance in developing an approach for engineering services for the $6 million Saskatoon Southeast Water Supply System Rehabilitation project. Associated Engineering responded, offering a modified design-build approach to fast-track the project to rehabilitate the water supply canal.

“The Water Security Agency respected our trusted relationship. Together, we worked through the challenges of a tight schedule and unique project delivery approach.” - Project Manager, Doug Thomson

The Water Security Agency’s prime objective was to upgrade and rehabilitate the existing canal which was originally constructed in 1969 and partially upgraded in 1995. They also wished to bring the canal up to current standards and increase the existing capacity from 6 to 8.2 cubic metres per second to allow more water supply to reach downstream users. The canal provides water to 20,000 acres of irrigated famland, six reservoirs, three potash mines, five towns and villages, and a provincial park. The canal is operational from May to October annually; therefore, all construction had to be completed outside of that time frame.

Our team began design of a 3.2 kilometre section of the canal in July 2020. We completed the 80% design Issued-for-Tender drawings the following month.

Project Engineer, Kristin Gray, says, “The original canal had two different surface treatments, unlined grass and a geotextile liner. In the rehabilitated design, in areas where seepage was a concern, a high-density polyethylene liner as well as gravel armour were used to extend the life span of the canal. In areas where seepage was not an issue, only armour was used.” The rock armour protects the canal from erosion, creating a sustainable design that will have a long life span.

This project informs the much larger Westside Irrigation project that Associated Engineering is delivering as an integral team member

To help fast-track the project, our team included representatives from the Water Security Agency in our weekly design progress meetings, which enabled them to provide timely review and input into the design. This collaborative approach helped to deliver a workable design and issue the tender within six weeks.

The tendering was unique as the contractor had to include an engineering firm in their bid to complete the design and provide resident and general engineering duties during construction; Associated Engineering was identified as a potential firm to complete the design. The selected contractor included Associated on its design-build team as we had completed 80% of the design. We were thus able to continue the design and construction phase through to substantial completion.

Saskatoon Southeast Water Supply System Canal completed

The main challenge faced in this project was the timeline. The usual timeline for the M1 construction season is for the contract to be awarded between July and August, allowing the contractor to secure land easements, borrow material and strip the site, so when the water is turned off at the end of September they can start construction.

On this project, the contract wasn’t awarded until late-October, with construction starting in early November. We worked closely with the contractor and the Water Security Agency to streamline the construction start process, so work could start immediately to move as much earth as possible before freeze up.

“Working with the contractor, our team determined design optimizations that could result in shorter lead times to get materials on-site, but also to improve upon the design/components that were used in the M1 canal rehabilitation.”

The contractor also provided important input on value added/engineering efficiencies to enable construction in the limited time window, leading to a working canal by Spring 2021. The Water Security Agency was very happy that the project was delivered on time and within budget and water flowed earlier than initially expected.

Our key personnel involved on this project included Doug Thomson, Kristin Gray, Jim Kells, Brady Marshall, Evan Latos, Nick Dodds, and Doug Olson.