SaskWater leases additional land from Melfort for water treatment plant expansion

MELFORT — SaskWater has expanded its lease with the City of Melfort, leasing additional space to the southeast of its water treatment plant.

This comes after SaskWater received a $5.6 million boost in funding for an $8.5 million upgrade to the water treatment plant. The money will fund upgrades to the water treatment process, as well as the addition of a backup power source.

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The federal and provincial government will pay two-thirds of the cost of the project through the New Building Canada Plan, leaving SaskWater to pay for the remaining $2.8 million.

The treatment plant, built in 1958, distributes water to around 9,000 customers in Melfort, Weldon, Star City, Kinistino, Beatty and surrounding areas. The last major upgrades were done in 1972. SaskWater took over the plant in 1993.

“The reason that came up in council, is we’re adjusting the boundaries of that in order to accommodate the area we need to do the project,” said Courtney Mihalicz, a spokesperson for SaskWater.

Rick Lang, Melfort’s mayor, said this is certainly nice for Sask Water because they’re getting the grant but that it’s a double-edged sword.

“The direct reality is it doesn’t reflect directly to the citizens of Melfort other than it will increase  the quality of water and the ability to supply an adequate supply of water at all times,” Lang said.

“But at the same token, what we’re going to see over time is our water rates increase from SaskWater, so with our current water loss we have we’re going to be sending water down the storm sewer that costs even more.”

The city has been lobbying the provincial government for federal infrastructure funding for the city’s water lines.

One concern raised by council on July 9 about leasing the land was due to how it would affect a current study being conducted. The study is exploring the viability of using the same water reservoir the treatment plant is located at as a training facility for the water skiing association.

“Coun. [Trent] Mitchell’s concern was that if SaskWater decided all of a sudden that, ‘no that’s our lease property, we’re not going to let vehicles cross it’. But that’s never been indicated to us and that could create a problem. So a good question, but from our perspective not a valid concern at this point in time.”

SaskWater is expecting work to start in the summer of 2019 and be substantially complete by the end of September 2020.

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