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Monday, May 09, 2022

New regional water system provides safe, long-term drinking water for Whitefish Lake First Nation #128

Aerial view of a water reservoir building

In 2014, Whitefish Lake First Nation #128 approached Associated Engineering for advice on their drinking water system. The treatment plant for this northern Alberta community could not treat the incoming water to the required quality.

It was determined that connecting to a nearby regional waterline would provide the most reliable and cost-effective water supply for the community. In collaboration with the Whitefish Lake First Nation, Highway 28/63 Regional Water Services Commission, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), and the Province of Alberta, we completed a feasibility study and developed a phased design and construction approach for a new water supply. 

The project team undertook a three-year program with six contracts to design and construct the water system expansion. The system comprises 64 kilometres of 250 millimetre and 300 millimetre diameter water pipeline from Smoky Lake, Alberta to the community’s boundaries, which was fully funded by the province. Two new booster stations along the system ensure flows can be maintained to meet the demands of the community and existing service points. A joint funding split between the province and ISC supported all costs for a new off-reserve water storage reservoir, and ISC funded the on-reserve water distribution system.  

Group of workers having a meeting outside

Two contractors worked to build a hill-top, gravity-fed water reservoir, as well as a new pipeline into the Whitefish Lake community. Ryan Krausher, Manager, Technical Services, tells us, “We encouraged the use of local labour for the project. At the peak of construction in the summer of 2020, local labour made up almost 50% of the waterline installation crew.” 

In early October 2021, the existing Goodfish Lake Water Treatment Plant suffered a catastrophic failure and could no longer produce water.  A public communication and water system changeover strategy was quickly and efficiently organized to complete the transition to the new regional water supply. On October 16, 2021, the Whitefish Lake community turned on their taps to safe drinking water from the new regional water system.

A new truck fill station

The project marked a successful collaboration between the Whitefish Lake First Nation #128 Leadership, Associated Engineering, and Thompson Infrastructure.

“We are currently working with Whitefish Lake First Nation Leadership and Indigenous Services Canada to extend the water distribution system.” 

Our key personnel on this project included Ryan Krausher, Christa Bergeron, Candace Bryks, Nicholai Kristel, Michael Brodzikowski, Kevin Darrach, Chris Bredo, Caitlin Luo, and Hu Kou.