Design contract awarded for new regional Water Treatment Plant

The RM of Buckland and RM of Prince Albert Office./Daily Herald File Photo

A new water treatment plant on the North Saskatchewan River is one step closer to becoming a reality.

In late October, the Prince Albert Rural Water Utility (PARWU) awarded the pre-design and detail design of the Water Treatment Plant to Associated Engineering (AE) at a special board meeting.

By awarding this contract, the project can now move to its next phase.

“This Associated Engineering award is just outstanding for us,” Shellbrook councillor and Steering Committee Chair Brent Miller said. “We are in this situation where I think the consultants are hungry and we find ourselves in the enviable position here where Associate Engineering is offering us highly qualified technicians to help us with our project.”

PARWU purchases water from the City of Prince Albert and serves a network of customers in the RM of Buckland, the RM of Prince Albert, the Muskoday First Nation and the RM of Duck Lake. The PARWU board also now has representatives from the RM of Shellbrook and Town of Shellbrook for regional collaboration to enlarge the PARWU’s ability to service more municipalities with fresh, good drinking water.

The steering committee has also been reorganized, and will report to the PARWU board while managing project construction.

In January, the Town of Shellbrook and RM of Shellbrook formed a Steering Committee with the PARWU to have a feasibility study completed on the building of a Water Treatment Plant and fresh water line to the Town of Shellbrook. The project’s cost came in at $52.5 million after the conceptual design was completed.

There has been significant progress in planning throughout the summer, including the PARWU purchase of approximately 25 acres on the North side of the Saskatchewan River as the potential location for the Water Treatment Plant. The property is in an ideal location, since it’s near an area of the river that has less sediment and clearer water, which should help in reducing the cost to treat the water.

Miller said the group will announce awarding of a contract to outsource funding and financing in the coming weeks. They also plan to apply for a few grants.

“We need expertise for that too because we are just a bunch of farmers and engineers and we don’t know about that kind of stuff,” he explained. “I am guessing it will be two weeks from now that we will be able to announce that and talk a little bit more about it.”

Miller added that the project is really moving at a decent pace.

“Nothing happening at all that would ever discourage us or make us think that we are not on the right path,” he said.

In mid-Sept. 2021, Project Manager, Steve Irving issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for Process Treatment Pre-Design, Detailed Design, and River Water Sampling Analysis. Each proposal was to include a 2-phase approach.

Phase 1 was to include an evaluation of the water treatment process, geotechnical investigations, water sampling, and predesign of the water treatment plant. Phase II utilizes the pre-design as a basis and completes the detailed Engineering design.

The company is looking forward to beginning the project as well.

“Associated Engineering is excited to join the Prince Albert Regional Water Utility (PARWU) team in providing our services for design of a proposed new water treatment plant situated along the North Saskatchewan River,” AE Project Manager Scott Miller said in a release. “We understand the importance of this project ultimately in supplying safe and reliable potable water to PARWU customers including a proposed expanded regional network. Through our Saskatoon and Prince Albert offices, our work will begin with site investigation, water quality sampling and survey to be followed by pre-design level development in the Spring and Summer of 2022.”

The contract with Associated Engineering keeps the PARWU on target to award construction contracts in or around March of 2023.

“We will have all of the information that we need about a year from now to make a decision about proceeding with the full blown project,” Miller said. “That would mean then awarding, starting to prepare construction drawings and awarding construction contracts potentially in the end of first quarter of 2023.”

There are still a number of steps to go through before they can start construction. The list includes geotechnical surveys on the build site and in the river.

“We are going as quick as we can,” Miller said. “There is just so much work that needs to be done that we don’t see before the walls start going up.”

Miller added that they have to test water in all four seasons in the river. They will also be partnering with a company to work on approvals and permits. Miller explained that they are still finalizing the details and expect to approve it next month.

That company would have to organize the public meetings that need to be held before the projects starts.

Miller added that the contract is expected to be in the $350,000 range—roughly what the Associated Engineering contract is in.

“Once we get into phase two and the construction drawing, it gets to be a healthy amount of money that we are spending to get things in a place where we can make a really sound decision about moving forward,” he explained. “We will have had all of this work done that take almost all of the uncertainty out of the estimated numbers for building the plant and the pipeline.”

Miller added that there would be more public engagement from PARU as planning and engineering continue to move forward.