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Dundurn Water Projects

Cooperation key to success of Dundurn-area water and wastewater projects.

Two massive, water-related infrastructure projects in the Dundurn area are testaments to the value of municipalities working together.

The projects are worth a combined $30 million dollars; one is going to provide potable water and the other involves the construction of a massive wastewater disposal system.

The Dundurn Rural Water Utility potable water project will provide drinking water to the towns of Dundurn and Hanley, the rural municipalities of Rosedale and Dundurn, and the southern parts of the RM of Corman Park, as well as Blackstrap Provincial Park.  In total, the system will serve more than 1,800 households.

Construction on the huge, $23-million project began in 2010 and involves putting more than 285 kilometres of pipe into the ground.  The drinking water will come from the Saskatoon SaskWater source at the Clarence pump house and will travel in a new underground pipeline along Highway 11.

Water will flow to some residents starting in 2011, and the project is expected to be completed by 2012.

The new system is a huge undertaking, but project manager Luke Muirhead says the inter-municipal collaboration is preferable to each municipality trying to go it alone with individual treatment facilities.

"They're very expensive, very tough to operate," Muirhead said, adding that municipalities that don't partner with their regional neighbours often "don't have the operating money to keep them going in the future, much less create a reserve to re-build the thing in 50 years."

Muirhead notes that the potable water system is going to be a big boon for the town of Hanley.

"They were pulling 80 per cent [of their water] from an open-bodied reservoir... they were also pulling 20 per cent from well water," he said. "So the organics you'd have coming in from surface water and the hardness you'd be trying to treat from well water, it takes a very skilled operator to try to handle problems like that, if you even could."

Beside the improvements in water quality, the new potable water system will be available to new subscribers at a relatively reasonable price.   Most subscribers will be paying $7,500 or $9,500 to be connected to the system.  Elsewhere, Muirhead notes, the same service could cost more than $18,000.

The Dundurn area has experienced some of the most rapid rural residential growth of anywhere in Canada.  For example, the Rural Municipality of Dundurn has 790 new lots currently under development.

The population boom in the region has resulted in a greater demand for sustainable wastewater disposal.

The Town of Dundurn's wastewater was being treated in a lagoon, which was operating at capacity and was going to require expansion.  The resort villages of Thode and Shields needed a new lagoon because they were collecting their wastewater into holding tanks and then trucking it 30 kilometres to Hanley.

In 2008, representatives from a number of the communities in the region formed the Dundurn and Area Wastewater Utility board and commissioned Associated Engineering to come up with a regional solution to their wastewater collection, treatment and disposal needs.

"We've had good cooperation with all four communities," said RM of Dundurn reeve Fred Wilson, who also serves as chair of the Dundurn and Area Wastewater Utility board. "We all had a common purpose, so it worked out quite well, actually."

The answer will be a new regional wastewater collection system that consists of a new, larger aeration lagoon, which will collect wastewater from five different pumping stations in the communities. Once treated, the water will flow through a nearby marsh, into a creek and travel more than 20 kilometres before flowing into the South Saskatchewan River.

The new system, which will cost about $9.1 million, is expected to be completed in the fall of 2010.   It will serve the Dundurn (both the town and the RM), Thode, Shields, several private developments along Lake Blackstrap, and the Hillcrest Hutterite colony.

Both the potable water project and the wastewater projects received major funding from the federal and provincial governments via the Building Canada Fund - Communities Component (BCF-CC).  The BCF-CC provides infrastructure funding for projects in communities with populations under 100,000.

The federal and provincial governments each committed $7 million to the potable water project and $3 million to the wastewater project.  That adds up to $20 million in federal and provincial funding.

"If we hadn't have had that funding, it would have been pretty tough to make it go," Wilson said.  "The Building Canada Fund grant was very crucial to the success of the project."

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