Saint John's new $229-million public-private water treatment project could see construction begin in February and that could have west side residents tapping into higher quality water by November 2017.

The project's design and construction is intended to be started quickly and it could be wrapped up in the next three years.

The city estimates the water treatment project will be substantially completed by November 2018.

Bill Edwards, the city's water commissioner, said three wells have been drilled to supply groundwater to the system.


There will be three new wells drilled to supply the new water system. But the rest of Saint John will continue to get its water from a lake.

"The water from the wells on the west side is essentially pure, [it] doesn't need any retreatment," he said.

"So we will build pumphouses around the wells and a new pipeline up to Spruce Lake and put it into the system that currently exists."

Saint John council announced on Nov. 6 that it had selected a consortium of companies under the name Port City Water Partners to be its preferred proponent for the new treatment plant.

Port City Water Partners is made up of nine private partners, including two Irving construction companies, FCC Construction and Gulf Operators.

It will be a 30-year public-private partnership that will see the private companies design, build, finance, operate and maintain the water treatment system.

Saint John council generic

Saint John council approved the new public-private partnership agreement with Port City Water Partners at a council meeting on Friday. (CBC)

In order to help pay for the new water system, Saint John is proposing to raise water rates for each of the next four years.

The proposed residential rate for 2016 is $551.

The new water treatment system been talked about for years. A 2008 city report forecasted a new water system would be up and running in 2014.

In 2013, the provincial government and the federal government's PPP Canada each contributed $57.3 million to the project.

The new water treatment system will separate water destined for homes from the water sent to major industrial players.

Edwards said companies, such as the Irving Oil Ltd. refinery, will receive untreated water.

"They only require raw water so naturally, we don't want to treat water we don't have to treat," he said.

The rest of the city will continue to be supplied by lake water. And along with the new treatment plant for it, 26 kilometres of water mains are to be replaced or refurbished.