Regina, Moose Jaw residents asked to limit water use after outages at water treatment plant

Frost on power lines has affected the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant. The City of Regina is now asking residents to limit "non-essential" water usage.

City of Regina tells residents to expect cloudy water, asks for limited non-essential water usage

Crews were working to restore power at the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment facility Wednesday. General Manager Ryan Johnson estimated it would be restored by early afternoon. (CBC)

Residents are being asked to watch their water consumption due to the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant — which services Regina, Moose Jaw and other smaller communities —  experiencing intermittent power failures since Dec. 1.

On Tuesday, widespread power outages across the province shut the facility down. Power went out again out at the facility Wednesday.

According to Pat Wilson, the director for water, waste and environmental services, there is no immediate risk to water quality and supply, but the city is asking residents to limit non-essential water use.

"The City of Regina is using it's reservoirs and has activated the wells to supplement the reservoirs," she said. "Residents may notice a difference in water clarity over these next few days as the well water works its way through the system."

Ryan Johnson, Buffalo Pound's general manager, said the plant has an emergency plan in place and generators are being brought in, in order to offset power outages when needed.

He said the generators are capable of operating the plant at 25 to 30 per cent capacity for an indefinite period of time.

"That's enough [capacity] the cities can manage their water reservoirs based on that," he said.

Wilson asked people to think about what they need in terms of water usage and what they feel is necessary.

"If you need to do a load of laundry, that's fine, but if you can defer it, we would appreciate it because it would give us a little bit more time to make sure the plant is up and running and to keep our use as low as we can," she said.

Wilson noted this is a more optimal time of year to implement these kinds of measures because there is much less discretionary water use happening.

She estimated two days worth of water supply exists, depending on how much water people are using.

Frost on power lines caused issues at plant

Much like the rest of Saskatchewan, frost on power lines has been creating the issues at Buffalo Pound.

He said the treatment plant is in a remote location roughly 70 kilometers from Highway 1 and is serviced by just one power line. The plant experienced two long-term outages over the span of four days: a 10 hour outage on Saturday and a four hour outage on Tuesday.

"With the frost on the lines, that was the issues we were having on Saturday, Sunday and Monday," he said. "When it comes to Tuesday, it just continued on."

He noted the city's reservoirs have been kept "topped up" through the process, however when the plant is offline no new water can be added to them.

As of 11:30 a.m. CST Wednesday, the plant had been out of operation for roughly an hour and a half according to Johnson, who estimated it would be offline until the early afternoon.

Upgrades to electrical system coming

Johnson said the plant is expecting electrical upgrades in the coming months.

"We're actually about four months out of having generators at the main plant, so this would have been a non-issue at the main plant," he said. "Because this happened before the generators are up and running, we actually have an electrical contractor on-site.. They're doing the work for us now, to do the emergency hook-ups."