LIFE IS HARD, YOUR WATER DOESN'T HAVE TO BE
The Town of Stonewall is pursuing a regional water project with the RM of Woodlands for the communities of Warren, Woodlands and Stonewall. A portion of the funds for this project have been made available through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
The two municipalities are working together with Manitoba Water Services Board and Stantec Engineering to complete further study and design for the project. Additional information regarding financial and environmental impacts, as well as frequently asked questions will follow in the weeks to come based on the results of the study.
The type of water treatment process being considered for the regional project is Reverse Osmosis (RO).
WHAT IS REVERSE OSMOSIS?
Reverse Osmosis is a water purification process that uses a membrane (synthetic lining) to filter out unwanted particles such as contaminants and sediments like chlorine, salt, minerals, and dirt from drinking water. In addition to removing contaminants and sediments, Reverse Osmosis can also remove microorganisms – which you certainly do not want to drink. It gets water clean down to a molecular level, leaving only pure H2O behind.
HOW DOES REVERSE OSMOSIS WORK?
Reverse Osmosis (RO) is a process that helps clean water by removing impurities and hardness from raw water making it safe to drink. It works by applying pressure to push the water through semi-permeable membranes (Membrane treatment unit) that trap particles and minerals leaving behind clean water. A by-product of reverse osmosis water treatment is reject water. This is the portion of the flow that does not pass through the RO Membrane Treatment Unit, and therefore is not included in the municipal water supply to residents.
Water that has gone through the RO process can become to aggressive which can cause issues with plumbing and appliances. To prevent aggressive water, the system that will be created for our community will include by-pass and blending. By-pass means that some of the raw water is allowed to skip the reverse osmosis process so it can keep its natural minerals. Blending is when the RO water is mixed with by-pass water. The blended water is then post treated with small amounts of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and chlorine (Cl2). The result is balanced, clean, and healthy water that tastes great.
REVERSE OSMOSIS & ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS
As progress on the regional water project continues, the Town of Stonewall and the RM of Woodlands are making the protection of our environment a priority. The two municipalities are committed to following all necessary regulations to minimize any impacts on our environment. In fact, an environmental assessment will be completed for this project which will include:
- Identifying any negative environmental impacts
- Developing prevention measures to address identified impacts
- Determining if there will be any significant environmental impacts after prevention measures are carried out through a follow-up program that looks at the effectiveness of the preventative measures.
In addition, the Province will be completing a pre-design review for this project. At that time, it will be determined by the Province if an Environment Act Proposal or Environment Act License will be required for the project or any of its components.
Finally, in the spirit of open communication, the Town of Stonewall, and the RM of Woodlands will hold public open houses to further share information about the project to their residents and community members.
The Town of Stonewall and RM of Woodlands believe that by following the environmental regulations, we are contributing to the overall well-being of our communities and preserving the natural resources that we value. Together, we can create a sustainable environment for current and future generations.
REVERSE OSMOSIS REGIONAL PROJECT - WHY NOW?
There are many reasons that have made the regional water project a priority including the development of additional ground water wells. The current wells in Stonewall are around 40 years old and need to be refurbished or replaced before they fail. By creating new wells, the project will ensure that local residents have a reliable source of drinking water for decades to come.
In addition to securing a reliable water supply the project will expand on the reservoir capacity of the Town of Stonewall. The current reservoir isn’t large enough to meet fire flow rating requirements for the community and so an expansion is required.
The project will also create high quality water for consumption by all. By installing a reverse osmosis system in the new water treatment plant there will be no further need for residential water softeners or personal home - based reverse osmosis systems. People will be able to turn on the tap and get safe, high quality, esthetically pleasing water; something every resident deserves.
The final reason that the project is being considered now is financial, with funding availability being a factor in moving the project forward. The current regional project is being funded by contributions from both the Federal Government and the Province for up to 73% of the overall cost which means that the municipal portion of the project could be as low as 27%. The funding provided through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) is based on a regional project providing high quality water to the local citizens.
So why is the project a priority now? It makes a lot of sense to ensure the security of a high-quality water source that is treated to create excellent potable water at a capital cost that amounts to pennies on the dollar. This is an opportunity that may not come around again for a very long time.
REVERSE OSMOSIS REGIONAL PROJECT - TIMELINE
The regional water project continues to move forward as Stantec Engineering works through project design and specifications. In early July the partner municipalities were provided with a draft report from Stantec including project drawings that were 33% complete.
Over the past couple of years, the ability to accurately estimate costs for large capital projects has been difficult to do because of supply chain and inflation issues. This difficulty is made worse when trying to estimate costs for projects that are not complete with regard to design or specification. As a result, the partner municipalities have asked Stantec to continue to refine the design and specifications of the project in order to gain greater confidence in the projected costs for the regional water project prior to presenting the project to the public.
Work on design and specifications should be near completion (99%) by mid to late fall 2023, at which time the municipal partners will hold open house events with residents and rate payers in each municipality to share information and get feedback on the proposed project. Once the open houses are complete, the municipalities will engage in public hearings regarding borrowing approval to cover municipal costs for the project.
Depending on the outcomes from the public consultation process, tendering of the project could occur in early 2024 with construction of the water treatment plant and pipeline potentially to begin in the spring of 2024. With construction of the project estimated to be 18 months from start to finish, the new water treatment plant and pipeline could be ready for use sometime in late 2025.