New Brunswick

Fewer boil water orders promised by Saint John mayor

Following two, almost back-to-back boil water orders, Saint John's mayor is assuring the public a new water treatment system will minimize the aggravation of service interruptions.

Just days after back-to-back problems, Don Darling takes first tour of treatment plant under construction

Saint John Mayor Don Darling says the city's new $216-million water treatment system should keep boil orders and outages to a minimum.

Following two, almost back-to-back boil water orders, Saint John's mayor is assuring the public that a new water treatment system will minimize the aggravation of service interruptions.

After getting his first official tour of the construction of the east Saint John plant Thursday, Mayor Don Darling took the opportunity to apologize to those frustrated by the recent boil water orders.

"Saint Johners are again going through another inconvenience," Darling said. "We're sorry for that."

But Darling said once the city's Safe Clean Drinking Water Project is complete, the number of outages will go down. Had the project already been done, Darling said, the last seven boil water orders likely would have been avoided.

"I guess it also points to the necessary investment that we're making in this project."

On time and on budget

The construction project is budgeted at $216 million, with the provincial and federal governments paying $114.6 million. The city signed a public-private partnership with a consortium of eight companies in February to cover the remainder of the price tag. Darling said the project is both on budget and on schedule.

The project to improve Saint John's drinking water involves installing or replacing 20 kilometres of pipes. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)
On schedule, but not without some delays because of less than ideal winter weather. Saint John water commissioner Brent McGovern said winter setbacks are built into the schedule. But McGovern acknowledged there are still some unknowns when it comes to the cold season.

"This winter, yet to be seen, but could be a bit more challenging," he said.

About 100 people are working on the new water treatment plant. The main floor is now complete, which Saint John Water project manager Dean Price said is the main priority.

The project will also install or replace roughly 20 kilometres of piping, which McGovern said are extremely out of date. The outage in Forest Hills outage this week, he said occurred on a transmission line which dated back to 1857. Replacing those lines he said, will ultimately prevent issues for customers.

One of the other key issues the project will solve McGovern said, is the lack of water storage. "This treatment plant's going to have three large water storage tanks that" he said, each of them holding 11 million litres of treated water. The reserve he said could be used in the event of emergencies.