Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant Sets Record, Turns Tidy Profit

Robert Thomas

Last year’s hot and dry temperatures led to a record amount of water being treated by the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Corporation (BPWTC) and also a tidy profit for the plant.

In delivering BPWTC’s annual report, General Manager Ryan Johnson spoke about a very positive year.

Increasing flow from Lake Diefenbaker while increasing the outflow from Buffalo Pound Lake assisted with water quality and reducing organic matter in the plant’s uptake. This improved water quality led to using less chemicals to treat the water and a cost savings.

Councillor Chris Warren would later comment “water through at higher velocities (is better) than no water through at all.”

The plant beat an old amount treated record from 2001. Total water sales were $11.82 million with costs of $9.97 million resulting in a $1.85 million surplus, Johnson stated.

Total water sales in mega litres was 37,042.1. Sales to Moose Jaw were 5,676.2 megalitres with Regina buying 31,126 megalitres and SaskWater 240.3 megalitres.

The water usage was something keyed into by Councillor Brian Swanson who stated he wanted to use the statistics in the past to renegotiate the deal with the City of Regina.

“Moose Jaw’s water use is the same but Regina’s has tripled,” Coun Swanson stated. 

Under the agreement for the operation of the water treatment plant, Moose Jaw owns 26 percent of the plant. The City is responsible for that percentage of any capital upgrades.

Presently, Moose Jaw uses 17 percent of all treated water.

BPWTC’s plant requires plant upgrades estimated in the $127-224 million range if completed by 2023.

A loan of $45 million was obtained to finance an accelerated electrical capital upgrade project in the plant, lake pump substations and the transmission line. Construction is scheduled to start in early 2018. The construction will include backup generators to increase plant reliability.

Currently, water sales rates and financial arrangements are geared for the $175 million mark in necessary capital work.

The plant was last renewed 30 years ago.

A major upgrade completed in 2017 was an ultraviolet treatment system. When commissioned, the process will be another layer of increased disinfection allowing reduction in chlorine used the report stated.

Coun Swanson spoke about the pending expansion but Johnson replied “its likely unlikely (to see) expansion of the plant.”

The plant was expanded in 1989.

“The City lent itself money in 1989 that allowed us to expand the capital fund,” he said.

At a previous Executive Committee meeting, Coun Swanson unsuccessfully argued not to put out a request for tenders to potentially borrow $30 million. He favoured self financing from the reserves.

At that meeting, Councillor Scott McMann had argued by seeking interest rate bids the City could potentially secure substantial savings because the larger banks were predicting increased interest rates.

Johnson spoke about changes within the organizational structure with three divisions formed in 2016 – Water Lab and Research, Operations and Safety and Maintenance and Engineering.

A major research study continues into alternative processes to deal with organic matter in raw water designed to reduce unwanted by-products without compromising disinfection efficiencies.