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Calgary Faces Water Infrastructure Challenges

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Across Canada, municipalities are grappling with major water infrastructure challenges, including:

  • Aging infrastructure
  • Upgrading treatment plants to meet environmental requirements
  • Improving stormwater management in the face of climate change

Editors from Water Canada spoke to water service managers in five Canadian cities about the priorities in coming years.

In Calgary, one of the biggest challenges is keeping up with population growth.

In 2014, about 39,000 people joined the city, and another 250,000 to 300,000 are expected over the next 10 years.

“We need to make the infrastructure investments to be able to service those new Calgarians,” said Francois Bouchart, the manager of infrastructure planning for the city’s water services.

“About 50 per cent of our total capital program goes toward supporting the city’s growth.”

To this end, one major project is the expansion of the Bonnybrook Wastewater Treatment Plant, the city’s largest investment project to date.

Though still in the initial design stages, the $700-million plant is scheduled to begin operation by 2019 0r 2020.

Maintaining and renewing the city’s aging infrastructure is another priority, while also determining the most cost-effective way to do so.

For example, Calgary’s has been relining many of its sanitary mains with a material that re-establishes the pipe’s structural integrity, a method that avoids having to dig up and replace the entire pipe.

Many of the city’s storm ponds are also reaching the end of their useful lives, filling up with sediment. A program is being launched to assess their conditions, so as to develop a strategy for cleaning out the ponds and ensuring they meet the city’s needs and its regulatory and environmental goals with respect to water quality protection.

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