By Greg Price
Barnwell is booming, and with that population boom, Barnwell council has voiced concerns over the capacity and upgrading its water treatment plant.
According to Don McCrae, public foreman for the Village of Barnwell, the plant will run at a maximum output of 18 litres per second.
“When it was built, that was fine. But the last couple of summers, and especially this summer, when it gets to 25 to 30 degrees (Celsius), it’s not a huge concern, it’s keeping up just fine. But if we ever had a fire, it would cause problems,” said McCrae at Barnwell council’s July 16 meeting.
McCrae and Barnwell Chief Administrative Officer Wendy Bateman looked at the growth of the village and projected growth when the water treatment plant was first designed. Those projections have been way off of what the accelerated growth the Village of Barnwell is currently enjoying.
“Their projected growth in the year 2025, our population would be just under 700,” said McCrae. “We’ve talked with the engineers, and when the plant was built, we have two skids, with room for 18 modules and right now we only have nine modules with this one, so it’s only half full.”
Barnwell Mayor Eric Jensen noted Barnwell reached that projected population approximately eight years ago. The latest census has the Village of Barnwell population at 960. With the two censuses Barnwell has done in 2006 and 2011, Barnwell had approximately 20 per cent increases in population.
“In the last 10 years, we’ve grown substantially quicker and larger than what was anticipated and projected,” said Jensen, adding when he got on council, estimations with a municipal development plan had Barnwell at a 2.5 to three percent population growth rate, taking into account previous growth rates.
There have been discussions with engineers about plugging in more modules at the water treatment plant.
“They haven’t got back to me about prices, but two years ago it was $5,000 a module,” said McCrae. “With the population we have, it’s time to start looking at buying new modules.”
Councillor Darrell Turner inquired how added modules to the water treatment plant would affect the holding tanks reservoir.
“Right now we can’t keep up. We lose ground in the day time. We can’t filter as fast as it’s going out,” replied CAO Bateman.
“How many (modules) it would take to do that? This year is an exceptionally hot, dry year. Based on how they built the water treatment plant with the population at that time they were thinking in the year 2025 we would have a population of 700 and we’d be at full capacity. We are far beyond that and we haven’t even increased it yet. That’s the rationale behind this, we don’t want to get into a compromising position where we can’t keep up.”
McCrae added when the temperature gets up to 30 degrees Celsius, the plant is producing water at 16 litres per second.
“If we ever had a fire, that would suck our clear well down,” said McCrae. “I feel with our population increase, we don’t have a choice, we have to look into this and have it taken care of. If we had a fire and no water left for the rest of the summer,” said Barnwell councillor Jane Jensen.
Barnwell council passed a motion unanimously for administration to consult with engineers to get cost estimates for the extra modules/membranes for the local water treatment plant.