On Tap: Safe Drinking Water
Construction of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s new Cold Lake military base in 1952 meant an influx of people to the Lakeland region. With the people came new water infrastructure.
Canada’s Department of National Defence built a pump house along the shore of Cold Lake to supply water to the base itself and the nearby community of Grand Centre. A short drive north, the community of Cold Lake—which also drew its water from its namesake lake—constructed a new water intake and pump house in 1952.
Today, professional engineers are helping create another important water infrastructure project in the region. An $84–million, water transmission upgrade will ensure a safe, long-term water supply for the area. For one, it will serve the City of Cold Lake, which was formed in 1996 through the merger of Grand Centre, Cold Lake, and Medley (Canadian Forces Base 4 Wing). And it will serve Bonnyville, Ardmore, Fort Kent, and Cold Lake First Nations 149.
The project includes 58 kilometres of new water transmission line, extensive upgrades to the existing water treatment plant to increase capacity, and a new 1,000-cubic-metre transfer reservoir and pump station, explains Azam Khan, P.Eng., Cold Lake’s general manager of infrastructure services and the project’s regional manager.
The water treatment plant was built in the early 1980s to replace the two 1950s pump houses. It currently serves Cold Lake, the base, and parts of Cold Lake First Nations.
A project of the Cold Lake Regional Utility Services Commission (RUSC), the service improvement is receiving 90 per cent of its funding from federal and provincial grants. The remainder is being covered by the Bonnyville Water Commission, a collaborator with RUSC.
Construction began in 2018 and is expected to wrap up this summer.
Khan and his team at the city are working closely with AECOM, the engineering consultant on the expansion, to ensure the project’s success.
“It’s exciting work to be doing, to improve people’s lives by providing something so essential like clean drinking water,” says Khan.
He’s especially proud that residents haven’t experienced service disruptions in water supply during the lengthy construction.
“We were digging and cutting lines and the water intake from the lake, but the public has never witnessed any interruptions. The water was supplied thanks to very precise engineering and project management practices,” notes Khan.
Members of the construction team for the regional water expansion project include (from left) Kurtis Eykelbosh, an engineer-in-training with AECOM; Eric Chichos and Shane Maloney, certified engineering technologists, both with Sure-Form Contracting: Colin Thibeau, a professional engineering technologist with the City of Cold Lake/RUSC; and Azam Khan, P.Eng., also with the City of Cold Lake/RUSC. They are pictured inside the City of Cold Lake water treatment plant—which is undergoing renovations to increase capacity—with Cold Lake in the background.
Construction of the Cold Lake water treatment plant expansion is expected to wrap up in the summer of 2020.