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Pictou’s water troubles expected to come to an end

Nova Scotia Minister of Municipal Affairs Chuck Porter, left, and Central Nova MP Sean Fraser, right were on hand Friday to help Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan officially open the town’s new water treatment plant.  The new system is expected to end the town’s brown water issues by removing the high levels of iron and magnesium from its ground water.
Nova Scotia Minister of Municipal Affairs Chuck Porter, left, and Central Nova MP Sean Fraser, right were on hand Friday to help Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan officially open the town’s new water treatment plant. The new system is expected to end the town’s brown water issues by removing the high levels of iron and magnesium from its ground water. - Sueann Musick

It took almost 10 years, but Pictou’s new water treatment plant could soon spell the end to the town’s brown water problems.

The Town of Pictou’s new first centralized water treatment plant was officially unveiled Friday and is expected to be fully operational by Monday. 

“It is not totally online,” said Mike Chaulk of CBCL Consultants which designed the new plant and was present at the grand opening.  He said the final steps are just a matter of making sure all the permits are in place for the operation of the plant as well as being cautious in terms of officially turning things over to the new system. “It is down to the hours. You shouldn’t start this up on Friday, but come Monday morning it will be online. If you are experiencing black water now, next week you should see that go away. “

The $5.8 million plant was built in town to take care of high manganese and iron levels as well as low water pressure. It is the second of a two-phase upgrade, and involved designing and constructing the centralized water treatment plant to remove concentrations of iron and manganese. Reduction chambers and boosting stations were also installed in the distribution system to balance pressure during periods of peak demand.

Pictou’s existing water distribution system draws directly from groundwater wells that contain high levels of naturally occurring iron and manganese. Due to low water pressure of the town’s distribution system and the reaction of iron and manganese with chlorine disinfectants, these contaminants have settled and accumulated in the distribution pipes.

The project received support from the Government of Canada and Province of Nova Scotia through the New Building Canada Fund in the amount of $1.7 million from each party for construction of the treatment plant and pressure zones as well as $207,000 from the Provincial Capital Assistance Program.  

With the new treatment plant, the utility can now monitor its thirteen wells and instruments in real time, treat 3,000 cubic meters of water per day water, and remove over 90 per cent of all iron and manganese. The facility is comprised of four sand filters, four oxidative media tanks, real time computer monitoring and alarming of the treatment plant, isolated chemical storage and extensive water quality monitoring equipment.

As part of the town’s commitment to environmental practices, the treatment plant features Nova Scotia’s first water recycle process, which significantly reduces wasted water for internal processes.

Chaulk said once the system is completely online, the water in town’s reservoir will flush itself out over time, replacing it with the water from the new treatment facility.

In addition to the treatment plant, two pressure zones are also being installed. With these new zones, water customers in higher elevations should experience an increase in pressure of approximately 10 PSI, which will allow the utility to complete an extensive flush program to remediate piping and eliminate iron and manganese that is already in the water infrastructure.

Mayor Pictou Ryan said.

“Bringing the water treatment plant on line and the completion of the pressure valve installations next month are major steps in providing a better quality and more reliable water service to all areas of the Town. Residents and business owners have been looking forward to this for many years. We are thankful for the participation of our provincial and federal partners in bringing this project to fruition.”

Pictou residents currently have water meters in place and are being charged a quarterly rate. The town expects that by Jan. 1, 2019, residents will start to be billed based on the amount of water they use in their homes.

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