Rising water could cut off Ottawa water purification plant

City officials say access to a major water treatment plant in west Ottawa is at risk from the rising Ottawa River, and the military is helping protect it.

Military will be out placing sandbags on Cassels Street this weekend

Cassels Street is the only way for vehicles to get to the Britannia Water Purification Plant in Ottawa. Stakes have been pounded into the side of the road in case part of it ends up underwater. (Simon Gohier/CBC)

City officials say access to a major water treatment plant in west Ottawa is at risk from the rising Ottawa River.

Cassels Street is the only road to the Britannia Water Purification Plant, and the military will be making sure it remains accessible, said city manager Steve Kanellakos.

"There's a section of that road that, if it becomes flooded, prevents us from bringing in the chemicals required to treat the water," Kanellakos said at Friday afternoon's update on the flood threat.

"We don't have the ability to stockpile enough chemicals in our [Britannia] water filtration plant to deal with the next three weeks, should we lose that road."

The Britannia plant and the Lemieux Island Water Purification Plant together process 90 per cent of the city's water from the Ottawa River.

The capacity of the Britannia plant is only slightly less than that of Lemieux Island, according to the City of Ottawa website.

'Protect that road at all costs'

Kanellakos said the plant is an example of the critical infrastructure the military was called in to protect during the state of emergency.

"We're directing our military partners to and our staff to sandbag and protect that road at all costs," he said.

Laila Gibbons, director of public safety and environment services, said crews will need to protect the street with sandbags by late Saturday or Sunday.

Stakes have been placed on Cassels Street so crews will know it's still safe to drive on should it be covered in water, Gibbons said. 

Gibbons said staff are also monitoring Lemieux Island, but so far they're not concerned about that plant being flooded.


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