Saskatchewan aims to protect water from source to tap with 25-year plan

via: The Canadian Press
Published Monday, Oct. 15, 2012

The Saskatchewan government has outlined a 25-year plan that it says will protect water supplies from the source to the tap.

The 25 Year Saskatchewan Water Security Plan has seven goals:

  • Sustainable Supplies
  • Safe Drinking Water
  • Protection of Water Resources
  • Safe Dams
  • Flood and Drought Damage Reduction
  • Adequate Data, Information and Knowledge
  • Effective Governance and Engagement

The Vision Statement of the Plan,”Water supporting economic growth, quality of life and environmental well-being” is supported by the following principles:

Long-Term Perspective: Water management decisions will be undertaken within the context of a 25-year time horizon.

Water for Future Generations: A sustainable approach to water use will protect the quality and quantity of water now and for the future.

Integrated Approach to Management: Water decisions will integrate the multiple objectives and information pertaining to the economic development, ecological, hydrological, human health, and social aspects of water, considering circumstances and needs that may be unique to a watershed or region, to achieve a balanced outcome.

Partnerships and Participation: The provincial government will facilitate collaboration in the development and implementation of water management decisions.

Shared Responsibility: All residents, communities and levels of government share responsibility for the wise use and management of water.

Value of Water: Water is essential to life and will be treated as a finite resource that is used efficiently and effectively to best reflect its economic, social, and environmental importance.

Continuous Improvement: Water management will be adaptive and supported by sound monitoring, risk assessment, evaluation, research, innovation, and best practices.

The province says conservation is critical and could be achieved through pricing strategies.

But the plan adds that new reservoirs, pipelines and canals may also be necessary to meet demand.

Water demand is highest in the southern part of the province because of industrial development such as potash mines.

Other goals include ensuring dams meet water supply and management needs safely and making sure measures are in place to respond to floods or drought.

“We want to ensure there is a sustainable water supply available to support our growth, a healthy environment and our quality of life,” Ken Cheveldayoff, minister responsible for the new Water Security Agency, said Monday.

Saskatchewan’s new Water Security Agency will report annually on how the plan is working.



Water Canada: Water Quality Forecasting for Better Infrastructure Spending

Via: Water Canada, Posted on October 1, 2012
Written by Greg Rose and Tim Webster

Water resource conflicts are becoming increasingly prevalent as the intensity of competing uses of nearshore environments increases. Given the complexity of environmental systems, successfully managing and cost-effectively addressing these conflicts can be challenging. To address such challenges, a five-partner collaboration, comprising Golder Associates, Esri Canada, the Applied Geomatics Research Group, Scotia Weather Services and GeoNet, is developing and testing a water quality forecasting and infrastructure optimization system piloted in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Basin.

Funded by the Atlantic Innovation Fund of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the research project leverages geospatial technology for advanced mapping and analysis of various factors affecting water quality. When completed, the system will allow municipalities in the basin to focus their infrastructure investment strategies to maximize environmental returns and allow shellfish harvesting to be planned in a way that maximizes existing resources.

The issue

Shellfish harvesting is a key part of the economy of the Annapolis Basin, an arm of the Bay of Fundy in eastern Canada. For the region’s famed Digby clams and other seafood to be marketable, the water from which they are harvested must be sufficiently clean. This can be a challenge given the area’s proximity to sources of potential contamination, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), watershed runoff, and concentrated deposits of fecal matter from seabirds and seals, as well as high tidal flows that can carry contaminants far from the source and render the harvest from some of the basin’s shellfish growing areas (SGAs) temporarily unsafe.

While current legislative controls in Canada, administered via the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP), provide the necessary checks and balances for protecting human health, their application is relatively labour intensive and expensive. Understandably, the current protocols are geared to exercising precaution. This often leads to closures of growing areas, in cases where these have the potential to yield high-quality harvests under optimal environmental conditions. Conversely, where shellfish harvested from non-prohibited areas are identified as contaminated during the testing process, the harvest is inevitably worthless unless it can be purified cost-effectively.

Continue reading

Storage and recovery project receives $1.3 million from Canada’s Gas Tax Fund (Gov of Canada)

Parksville, British Columbia, December 19, 2011 – The Englishman River Water Service (ERWS), a joint venture between the City of Parksville and the Regional District of Nanaimo, has been awarded more than $1.3 million from Canada’s Gas Tax Fund for an innovative project to store and recover water in an aquifer.

“Our Government has delivered on our commitment to make the Gas Tax Fund a permanent annual investment of $2 billion,” said James Lunney, Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Alberni, on behalf of the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. “This innovative project will benefit our watershed and ecosystem, and contribute to a sustainable water supply for the Oceanside area.”

Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) is a relatively new technology that is intended to manage peak demands and reduce overall demand on water treatment plants. The project will help excess water from the Englishman River flow through the treatment plant, and into wells. In the summer months, water will be withdrawn from the wells and pumped into the distribution system.

“If the analysis of this project proves successful, we will be able to reduce the future water treatment plant capacity by about one-third,” said Joe Stanhope, Chair of the Englishman River Water Service Management Board. “This technology will also allow the quantity of water taken from the Englishman River during the summer months to be reduced, on average, by 50 per cent. This will assist in maintaining the minimum fisheries flow in the lower reaches of the river, and will provide an important supplemental source of water to meet future need.”

“The federal Gas Tax Fund will allow the Englishman River Water Service to research this innovative ASR technology not only for the residents of our region but also as a first for British Columbia,” said Chris Burger, Mayor of the City of Parksville. “We are excited to be given this opportunity which will allow us to efficiently store drinking water at a lower cost.”

“It’s good to see the Gas Tax Fund supporting such innovative approaches for plans to capture and store drinking water,” said Ida Chong, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. “The regional district should be commended for future thinking in considering the long-term water needs of area families.”

Canada’s Gas Tax Fund provides stable, long-term infrastructure funding to local governments and other organizations through a tripartite agreement between the federal government, British Columbia and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM). The fund primarily supports capital projects that lead to cleaner air, cleaner water or reduced greenhouse gas emissions. UBCM administers the Gas Tax Fund in BC in collaboration with Canada and British Columbia. On December 15, 2011, legislation was passed that has made the Gas Tax Fund a permanent annual investment of $2 billion.

“BC communities are developing new ways of managing local water supplies,” said Heath Slee, President of UBCM. “UBCM appreciates the support of the Gas Tax Fund for new design concepts that promise to safeguard our rivers and streams.”

For more information:

Pierre Floréa
Office of the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities

Jeff Rud
Communications Director
Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development

Paul Taylor
Relationships and Communications Advisor

Mike Squire
Program Manager
Arrowsmith Water Service

Infrastructure Canada
Toll free: 1-877-250-7154

Educating the masses: Global Water Intelligence Insight

via: Global Water Intelligence GWI Briefing, 24Nov2011

Educating the masses

The voting down of two municipal outsourcing contracts in the US and Canada this week should not be seen as a victory for the anti-private water brigade. The fact that both projects would have been deliverable for less money using private sector expertise means that municipal leaders simply have to get smarter about educating their voters – and their councilmembers.

The outcome of last Saturday’s referendum in Abbotsford, British Columbia, means that the Can$291 million (US$279 million) design-build-finance-operate project for a 150,000m³/d water treatment plant at Stave Lake – which had been eligible for Can$62 million (US$59 million) of federal funding – will now not proceed as a public-private partnership. The project would cost as much as Can$328 million (US$315 million) under traditional procurement.

Similarly, the decision to reject SouthWest Water’s low bid to operate the new 37,850m³/d surface water treatment plant serving the city of Lodi in California will end up costing the city an extra $90,000 every year.

The success of the Canadian PPP programme has to some extent relied on the fact that the majority of projects have been in sectors such as healthcare, roads and transportation – all of which are controlled at the provincial level. The fact that water and wastewater are under municipal control means that not only are there relatively few precedents in terms of completed PPP projects, but also that the fate of each initiative ultimately lies in the hands of the voters.

Although the outcome of the referendum in Abbotsford is a setback for private water in Canada, it should not be seen as a reaction against private water per se. All projects – irrespective of the sector they fall into – will inevitably generate some form of opposition, and the challenge for municipalities is to get the voters on side to the extent that when the time comes to vote, the result is a fair decision taken by an educated electorate.

Dwelling on private water operators’ imperfect track records – which sowed the initial seeds of doubt in the minds of the authorities in Lodi – is one of the easiest ways to alienate voters. Fears over tariff increases and job security for unionised labourers are also grist to the municipal mill. It seems they do not see the bigger picture. Canada’s public sector pension funds are some of the biggest investors in global infrastructure. Rejecting bankable PPP projects now could come back to haunt dissenting voters in retirement.

This week’s columnist is Ian Elkins, GWI’s editor.

Brubaker & Dachis: Saving Every Last Drop of Toronto’s Water

Saving Every Last Drop of City’s Water: Toronto Star Op-Ed
Published in the Toronto Star on May 19, 2011

CD Howe Institute

by Elizabeth Brubaker and Benjamin Dachis

As the City of Toronto looks to plug its $774 million budget hole, it has kick-started a comprehensive service review. Although the city will need to find savings in many areas, the service review should consider the large potential savings from contracting out the water and sewage services that it currently provides.

The city operates all eight of its water and wastewater treatment plants, the water distribution system and the sewage collection system. In 2009, the city spent $820 million in capital and operating expenses for water and wastewater — almost twice the $420 million it spent on waste collection, recycling and disposal. Toronto Water’s 2011 budget values its water and wastewater assets at $27.9 billion. The sheer size of the water and wastewater budget suggests that large savings can be found.

Toronto’s water and wastewater services are expensive relative to those in other major Ontario cities. The costs of distributing water and collecting sewage are, per kilometre of pipe, among the highest in the province, in part because the networks are older than others. The city also pays more than most for wastewater treatment and disposal.

Torontonians might well wonder if they are getting value for their money. Water mains break more often per kilometre of pipe than they do in any other major Ontario city, and sewers back up more frequently. Overflows from sewers that carry both household sewage and stormwater commonly close beaches after heavy rains. The sewage treatment plant at Ashbridges Bay releases tonnes of pollutants into Lake Ontario every year.

The age and condition of Toronto’s water infrastructure make new investment inevitable. Because it has allowed its water and wastewater infrastructure to deteriorate, the city now has an infrastructure backlog of $1.7 billion and project investments of $8.7 billion over 10 years. Using private partners to finance and construct new facilities can reduce those costs.

Critics claim that the cost of capital for the public sector is lower than it is for the private sector. This saving is illusory. Holders of government debt know that taxpayers will foot the bill when things go wrong. In contrast, those who finance private projects, and who can’t count on a later taxpayer bailout, require a premium that accounts for the risks they take on. The higher cost of capital for private-sector construction is akin to an insurance premium for the public in case a project takes too long, is over budget or doesn’t work.

Additionally, if the private partners finance and build a project and are not paid until its completion, they will have strong incentives to manage construction effectively and complete it on time, thereby reducing overall project costs.

Private partners are not only useful in financing and building water facilities, but also in operating future and existing ones. The evidence around the world shows that competition among private service providers can reduce operating costs. A competitive tendering system will ensure that private operators try to out-compete their competitors — and in the water utility business, there are many.

The efficiencies inspired by competition do not come at the expense of water safety or environmental quality. The city can clearly define performance standards through enforceable contracts that penalize bad performance and reward good performance. Under contracts with municipalities, private managers have strong incentives to meet health and environmental standards.

In fact, it often becomes easier for both municipal and provincial governments to regulate arm’s-length private operations than it is for them to penalize public operations. When public utilities are fined for failure to meet standards, taxpayers lose; when private companies are fined, their shareholders lose.

No one solution will fill the City of Toronto’s looming budget gap. However, introducing competition for the city’s water and wastewater services can both save money and improve the quality of the services.

Benjamin Dachis is a policy analyst at the C.D. Howe Institute. Elizabeth Brubaker is the executive director of Environment Probe and the author of A Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Alternative Financing and Delivery of Water and Wastewater Services, published by the C.D. Howe Institute and available at

Vancouver Sun: Abbotsford plunges on with P3 water plan without Mission

Abbotsford City Council will be moving forward with a P3 water project proposal for Stave Lake without the support of its partner the District of Mission despite its vote to reject the plan.

Abbotsford Mayor George Peary said council will go ahead with the vote on submitting the P3 plan for federal funding in two weeks time as it decided at its meeting Monday night.

What’s more, if Abbotsford council votes in favour of moving forward and gets the desired funding, it will undertake the $300 million project to meet future water needs independently.

“At the moment, our belief is we will carry on, and if the application is accepted [for federal funding], it’s full steam ahead,” Peary said.

“It would be an independent Abbotsford water supply project, and would not be part of the Abbotsford/Mission Water Sewer Commission (AMWSC).”

Both municipal councils – joint members of AMWSC – were considering a public private partnership (P3) to help fund a $300 million plan to use Stave Lake as a secondary source to meet future water needs in the communities.

Both councils held public hearings around the issue Monday night, but Mission council voted 4-3 against submitting the proposal to Public Private Partnerships Canada (PPP Canada) for federal funding after facing vociferous public opposition.

However, Abbotsford council voted to defer the decision to submit the project to Ottawa for two weeks until its next council meeting so it could take time to weigh public comment – all of it critical – before making a decision.

The Stave Lake P3 project includes an intake and pump station, treatment plant, new transmission mains and expansion of the Maclure Reservoir.

Read the rest of the article

GE And FilterBoxx Sign Landmark Agreement To Advance Water Treatment Solutions For Oil Sands

via: Water Online, July 14, 2010

Recognizing the importance of finding efficient and economical ways to recover heavy oil from the oil sands regions, GE and FilterBoxx Water & Environmental Corp. have teamed up to develop innovative water treatment solutions.

GE and FilterBoxx recently signed an agreement to develop integrated de-oiling and water treatment options for Alberta’s oil sands. Specifically, the two companies will work together on heavy oil produced water treatment projects using in-situ thermal methods such as steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD).

Approximately 80 percent of the oil sands in Alberta cannot be open-pit mined because the bitumen is buried too deep below the surface and therefore must be recovered via in-situ (“in place”) methods. In-situ processes use thermal energy, steam or solvents to make bitumen flow so that it can be pumped by a well to the surface.

There are an estimated 98 billion barrels (bbl) of bitumen recoverable by in-situ technologies in the Athabasca region of Alberta alone. Conventional de-oiling and produced water treatment technologies require approximately 0.3 to 0.4 bbls of make-up water for each barrel of bitumen produced. FilterBoxx’s de-oiling and GE’s patented produced water evaporation technologies achieve significantly higher recoveries of the produced water, resulting in 30 to 50 percent less makeup water required for the SAGD process, depending on reservoir losses and other technical limitations.

“FilterBoxx is very excited to be teaming with GE to offer a complete package to treat produced water from thermal heavy oil operations. FilterBoxx technology allows for de-oiling at high temperatures, which makes it a perfect match with GE’s evaporator technology to provide an end-to-end produced water treatment system,” said Kevin Slough, CEO of FilterBoxx.

“FilterBoxx is an industry leader in developing and implementing technologies for use in produced water de-oiling systems and GE is a leading designer and supplier of produced water treatment technologies including falling film, vertical tube vapor compression evaporation. The two companies combining forces is a natural choice for the heavy oil industry,” said Jeff Connelly, vice president of engineered systems—water and process technologies for GE Power and Water.

About FilterBoxx
Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, FilterBoxx Water & Environmental Corp. provides water treatment solutions to the Canadian upstream industry since 2001. The company also serves industrial, municipal, aboriginal and other industrial clients employing proprietary processes and technologies. Through Combo Energy Services, a division of FilterBoxx, the company specializes in turnkey installation rental and operation services for all of its products minimizing site work and cost to the client.

About GE
GE serves the energy sector by developing and deploying technology that helps make efficient use of natural resources. With nearly 85,000 global employees and 2009 revenues of $37B, GE Energy is one of the world’s leading suppliers of power generation and energy delivery technologies. The businesses that comprise GE Energy—GE Power & Water, GE Energy Services and GE Oil & Gas—work together to provide integrated product and service solutions in all areas of the energy industry including coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy; renewable resources such as water, wind, solar and biogas; and other alternative fuels.