Construction on track for Esterhazy’s regional water treatment plant

August 28, 2023, 8:09 am
Sierra D’Souza Butts - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The first two phases for the Town of Esterhazy’s $30 million regional water system project have been completed, which involved the superstructure and the civil works.

The Town of Esterhazy is on the third contract of construction of its $30 million regional Water Treatment Plant (WTP), which will provide potable water to residents in town, and will have the potential to provide water to surrounding communities.

The bio filtration system will supply treated water for people and businesses in Esterhazy, and has been built with the ability to provide treated water to other municipalities within the region, and even to the Mosaic potash mine if needed.

“We’ll be able to go to Stockholm, Yarbo, lots of areas,” said Jon Zapski, the project manager with Allied Infrastructure.

“That’s the intent, with this being a regional water system, is to have that ability, and it is designed right now to meet at least Esterhazy’s capacity and then the capacities of some of those other communities.”

Through the federal government’s Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), the Government of Canada has contributed up to $11.9 million towards the project.

In addition, the Government of Saskatchewan is contributing up to $9.9 million. The Town of Esterhazy is responsible for funding the remainder of the project.

The first two contracts for the project have been completed, which involved building the superstructure and civil works phases of the project.
“They’re working on contract three right now which is the flooring,” said CAO Tammy MacDonald.

“Right now they’re getting the pipe in and then they’re going to be laying all of the rebar and the concrete. Three months from now when council comes back for another tour, the floor is going to be raised up with the cement inside of the building.”

After the third contract for the facility is completed, the next phase will focus on the interior work of the water treatment plant.

“Contract 4 could be some interior building works, perhaps, or looking more into the mechanical process, into the big equipment, the pipes,” said Zapski.
“It’s still to be determined, based on what’s available out there and what the lead times are for some of those items.

“That’s sort of the approach with the project, is to stick handle the contracts and try to make the most effective decisions to continue on with construction. If we had issues with a pipe supplier, well that slows down the whole project, as opposed to one small portion of it.”

Water system can supply the whole region
Zapski spoke about the benefits Esterhazy’s new water system will have with its ability to supply water for the entire region, compared to a system built solely for the municipality.

“With a regional water system you have the ability to bring in income from other communities by providing a service,” said Zapski.

“What we’re noticing nowadays is all of these small communities have the same aging infrastructure, and a lot of it is starting to fail.

“For smaller community centres to purchase the equipment required to meet the requirments of the Water Security Agency (WSA) now is becoming less and less attainable because of the sheer cost.

“We’re looking at a $30 million facility here that could service multiple communities, and that’s the idea, is to have some revenue, or something through that, to offset the costs of operations, but there’s going to be full-time water treatment staff here as well.

“Where in some of the smaller communities, your water treatment plant co-ordinator is your town foreman, is also the guy who drives the grader, is also the guy who cleans out all of the culverts, it’s one person.

“This will have the ability to provide water to them, as opposed to all of those communities and people having to haul their own water or have their own plant.

“The regional idea, I think, is going to start catching on more.”
Once the facility is built and running, the town will have dedicated employees maintaining and supervising the system.

“We need to have three full-time staff,” said MacDonald.

“Ron Hozjan, who has been here for 27 years, has his Level 2. He does water for the municipality.

“We have another guy who just passed his Level 2 and we have another guy who just got his Level 1.

“We’re in-house training and building them up as we go, to get them all ready by the deadline.”

Estimated timeline for WTP
The planned date for the Water Treatment Plant to be fully operational was originally set for the spring of 2025, however due to supply chain issues post-pandemic, construction on the project is expected to continue for a minimum of two years.

“All of the designing and everything else we did was pre-Covid,” said MacDonald.

“Then Covid hit and all of a sudden we see the supply and demand to get stuff, hearing the horror stories on how long it takes to get the electrical stuff and bigger items.

“That’s when we realized we had to get onto it now and get it ordered, because if we can get the orders in, we can then do some of the other contracts while we’re waiting for those to arrive.

“When we looked at the timeline it was set pre-Covid, but who was going to predict Covid and what that would look like?

“We’re not panicking about timelines right now, because we have the structure up, we have the steel, cement is going in before winter.

“I feel like it’s more back on schedule now.”