Saskatoon developer wants to use untreated 'raw' water to irrigate parks

Saskatoon councillors have voted in favour of developing a pilot project that would use untreated storm water to irrigate parks in the newly-created Brighton neighbourhood.

Pilot project in Brighton neighbourhood could save money, reduce carbon footprint

Saskatoon city council has approved the development of a pilot project that would irrigate parks in the Brighton neighbourhood with untreated water. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

Saskatoon councillors have voted in favour of developing a pilot project that would use untreated storm water to irrigate parks in the newly-created Brighton neighbourhood.

Dream Development approached the city to create the program where neighbourhood parks would use untreated 'raw' water for irrigation, rather than treated water coming out of the city's treatment system.

"Our goal with this is to reduce the costs associated with maintaining these parks," said Dream general manager Brad Zurevinkski. "We're very excited to enter into the pilot project."

While the city said the volume of water used in the park would stay the same (thereby not conserving any water), it would likely use less greenhouse gases to do so.

Last year, the parks division spent around $2.4 million on watering parks and open spaces across the city. The city is concerned that a growing city, combined with longer and drier growing seasons, could increase the cost of irrigation over time.

"I was happy to see this come forward," said Mayor Charlie Clark. "Ultimately the costs of irrigation are borne by the city."

Many cities across Canada and the United States have used untreated water to irrigate parks, including Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. In 2015, San Francisco signed a law to use non-potable water for all irrigation and cleaning of public spaces by 2020.

Watering parks doesn't come cheap. Last year, the Saskatoon parks department spent $2.4 million on watering 600 hectares of parks and open spaces in the city.

The proposal would draw water from a nearby storm water pond.

Dream has also contacted Nutrien to potentially use water from a pipeline flowing to its Patience Lake potash mine and has also looked into the possibility of using ground water during dry years.

The matter came up at the city's Standing Policy Committee on Environment, Utilities and Corporate Services.