File photo The Oxford reservoir and pumping station is the site of White Rock’s new water-treatment plant, due to be in operation by the end of January.

White Rock’s new water system to be ‘benchmark’

Water-treatment plant construction underway, on-stream by January

White Rock’s new water-treatment plant on Oxford Street should be up and running by the end of January – and ready for a grand opening by World Water Day in March that will highlight the city’s water system as a “benchmark.”

That was among information shared last week with White Rock council, as manager of utilities, engineering and municipal operations Saad Jasim presented the annual corporate report on the city’s water.

Jasim said he was happy with the way the water system is progressing since the purchase of the utility from Epcor in 2015.

“It’s a challenge for any city to take (on) a utility that’s been run by a private system, because the investment is not there, the infrastructure and all that… the water department worked around the clock to make things happen.”

Among highlights for 2017, he said, were increased water capacity, through the Merklin pumping station facility and reservoir completed in April of that year, and the development of a uniform system for secondary disinfection that meets Fraser Health requirements, while also eliminating esthetic issues such as cloudy or brown water.

He added the partnership with research program RES’AU-Water-NET identified the best technology to reduce naturally occurring arsenic and manganese in the water – now being implemented in construction of the water-treatment plant – while, the report says that water-main flushing in November and December targeted decades of manganese deposits in the distribution system.

Other work done in 2017, according to the report, included leak detection, training of operators to certificate standards, regular reporting of water-sample tests to show compliance with Canadian drinking water guidelines and beginning an ongoing aquifer-protection plan to ensure future water quantity and quality needs will be met.

“I know that contractors are a little upset sometimes because I’m on their back all the time, checking, questioning everything they say and they do, because we want to have the best system for the city,” Jasim said.

“This will be a benchmark for this region, and not just for this region, but in North America.

“In fact, the City of Surrey indicated clearly they are waiting for us. Once we complete the design of the system, they want to build a plant. They have that in writing now, when we did the aquifer-protection plan. They’re looking at 2023 to start their system.

“It will be good to be followed by other municipalities, especially much bigger ones.”

Concrete pouring for the new treatment plant started at the site on May 28, Jasim said. The building to house the plant is scheduled for completion by the first week of July, and delivery of plant equipment by the beginning of August.

Commissioning – bringing the plant up to working condition – would start by December, he said.

The plan is to have the system ready by the end of January 2019, Jasim said, noting, however, that the federal and provincial governments are anxious to see a public event recognizing the $11.79 million in grant funding they provided for the plant.

Jasim said the city plans to have two events – one the week of Sept. 17, when the building is complete, and the grand opening in March, after the plant is scheduled to be in full operation.

“I would suggest here maybe the World Water Day on March 22 would be a good event to launch, officially, the plant,” he said.

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