Moose Jaw City Council received an update Tuesday night on the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant’s (BPWTP) $325.6 million plant renewal project.

BPWTP supplies potable water to more than 260,000 people in the cities of Moose Jaw and Regina, along with residents of southwestern Saskatchewan.

President and CEO Ryan Johnson said construction has been underway for about 10 months.

"We are 25 per cent complete, we have spent $78.6 million dollars," he stated. "The joint-venture has 14 subcontractors on site. As of the last month or two, we have about 180 people on site. There have been 257,000 person hours on construction-related activities. The project is broken down into 37 work packages. The project, while generally about six weeks behind schedule, the critical items are on schedule. We have zero unanticipated scope changes. Our risks have been mitigated to date and we have no significant safety incidents on site."

Johnson says the maximum number of people on site is 220, noting they've been at about 180 for the last month or so but that number does fluctuate.

Councillor Crystal Froese asked Johnson how the new plant will be brought online.

"The one advantage about doing a renovation over a brand new plant is the operators will have a chance to operate the new components with the existing facility, so if something's not going correctly, we can still move back to the old system. It will give them a chance to learn the new system," he explained.

Another issue brought forward by Froese was the unusual taste and odour in Moose Jaw's drinking water, which was caused by a significant early-season algae bloom.

"The biggest advantage of the new plant is we'll have year-round taste and odour control," commented Johnson. "Currently, I only have taste and odour control for about seven months of the year. Most years, it works well, unfortunately, last November/December we had taste and odour and of course this spring. In 10 years, we haven't had that. With the new plant, we'll have year-round taste and odour control. This fall is still a risk but after this fall we should be at a point where taste and odour will no longer be an issue."

He expects various components of the new plant to be online soon.

"The DAF [dissolved air flotation] system will start in a few weeks' time but the whole project should be complete at the end of December of 2025. Then we have a two-year process validation period where the venture is still on the hook to ensure the plant can run the way it was designed."

Councillor Doug Blanc asked Johnson about the life expectancy of the new plant.

"We designed this for a 25-year life extension and the plan is to be sustainable. Every 25 years we'll go through another renewal and that gives us time 20 years from now to start the design process for the next 25 years. It will just become a cycle and we'll set up our capital contribution rates to ensure that every 25 years we do a renewal and it's just something that's done, as opposed to trying to find funds last minute, we're just going to build it into our system."

Blanc also brought up the point that a number of months ago, a request was brought forward to the City of Moose Jaw asking for additional funding.

Johnson noted that they have a $10 million contingency fund and a $5 million allowance to cover any unexpected costs. Both of those have not been touched at this point.

"With that, we're pretty comfortable that we will not have to come back to either city asking for funds," added Johnson.

Below is timelapse and drone footage of the progress made so far courtesy of the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant: