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Circuit Riders support water systems and water supply for communities in Northern Manitoba

ATAP Infrastructure Management assists in operating and maintaining water, wastewater, and municipal infrastructure. A member of the Associated Engineering group of companies, ATAP offers technical support, operations, troubleshooting expertise, and infield and classroom training by highly experienced operators.

The Government of Manitoba Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations engaged ATAP's Water System Circuit Riders to provide water systems support to northern communities. Circuit Riders provide operators with tailored water treatment education and hands-on support to improve the efficacy and efficiency of their water system operation and maintenance. The intent is for communities to achieve compliance with facility licensing and meet applicable regulations and environmental acts.

Launched in 2021, the initial phase of the program involved six communities (Duck Bay, Camperville, Berens River, Barrows, Comorant, and Sherridon) and focused on addressing the prolonged boil water advisories ordered in these communities. The Water System Circuit Riders currently supplies water system operational support and water system operator training services to the communities of Berens River, Pikwitonei, Thicket Portage, Wabowden, Cross Lake and Nelson House. These six communities are all governed by elected mayors and council under the Northern Affairs Act. A collaborative effort, facilitated by the collective expertise of our Water Circuit Rider team and our extensive network, yielded positive results, enabling five of the communities to independently manage their water systems.

A strong collaboration between operators, ATAP trainers, and government staff results in the creation of a tailored plan which aids operators in acquiring their certification registration and prepares them for in-person training specific to their community water systems.

For operators who have already obtained their certifications, the Water System Circuit Riders assist them in developing standard operating procedures to maintain their systems and ensure they meet their regulatory and operational requirements. The Water System Circuit Riders travel to these remote communities, providing hands-on mentoring and training for essential operational tasks, such as daily water quality monitoring, sample collection and delivery to laboratories for analysis, equipment maintenance, record-keeping, and reporting.

In 2022, the project entered its second phase, encompassing six communities, including two distant northern communities with challenges, particularly in terms of limited access and resources to address issues concerning their water treatment systems. ATAP successfully secured the contract through a tender process. Mark shares, "The communities have struggled to maintain compliance with provincial drinking water requirements and regulations and their water systems have been subject to frequent/long-term water advisories."

Project Coordinator, Milton Wood, says, "We work with the communities to ensure all regulatory and operational requirements are understood and travel to each location to provide on-site, in-person training to the local operators of the public works systems so they are able to meet the operating challenges and permit requirements consistently." Training videos, designed for the transfer of knowledge, were also produced as an integral component of the services offered.

Water & Wastewater Systems Specialists, Phil Beaulac and Kevin Sutter, serve as the on-site trainers and are both highly experienced operators. Phil also has numerous years of experience and knowledge gained from working in northern communities. Kevin says, "Two communities are fly-in only, as no other access is available. Due to the remote locations, we stayed with locals." Phil adds, "With the limited access to available materials, we worked with the operators to overcome issues related to the remote-working environments."

Our Water Circuit Riders have completed six of nine visits to each community of the 18-month contract. The team members have fostered a mentorship relationship with the operators and have made themselves available around the clock to offer troubleshooting assistance and leverage their extensive experience in the field of water and wastewater management.

Effective communication with all stakeholders, collaborative efforts with the Government of Manitoba, and the participation of northern communities in the program are key components of our ongoing work and successful service delivery.

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