The Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant renewal project is still behind schedule, according to president and CEO Ryan Johnson. 

According to the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant 2023 Annual Report given to city council on Monday night, the $325.6 million project is about 50 per cent complete. Johnson said they are about three months behind, but critical path items are on schedule. The project began in July of 2022. 

Johnson said, while there have been a couple of minor disruptions to service due to the construction, they are trying to have operations continue as normal. 

“The joint venture and the corporation staff are working to allow construction activities while ensuring that the water treatment plant operations can continue,” Johnson said.  

“It’s a large presence of joint venture staff at the plant compared to our plant staff and there’s significant disruption to normal duties. Both groups are working as best they can.” 

According to Johnson, $209.3 million has been spent on the project out of $325.6 million. However, he said the project is still on budget. 

“As of right now, we’re still within budget and we still have contingency remaining. There are some commercial disputes that will be dealt with at the end of the project, but we still have room in our contingency in case some of the disputed items end up going in their favour,” he said. 

Johnson expects the project will be completed by the end of December 2025. 

Ponds mapThe above map shows the plans for new ponds as part of the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant renewal project. (Photo courtesy: City of Moose Jaw)

On the operational side of things, Johnson said the water treatment plant operated on a $2 million operating deficit. He attributed that to increased costs to de-sludge the process lagoons and the cost to dispose of the sludge. He added that increased cost for chemicals, deteriorating raw water quality and water sales being under target also had an impact. 

Johnson said the capital reserve was depleted by $38 million as planned for the plant renewal project. 

He also noted that the water treatment plant will commission a 1.5 megawatt solar power system in June with a ribbon cutting on June 18.  

Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant is also working with the Water Security Agency after a drainage project was approved without consultation or a downstream user impact study. Johnson said there were concerns about the lack of information on the impact on the raw water quality. 

As for water supply, Johnson said Buffalo Pound gets about three per cent of the water taken from Lake Diefenbaker, with the other 97 per cent going north to the Saskatoon area. He said Buffalo Pound has about a three-year supply, while Lake Diefenbaker has an 18-year supply, so Johnson felt there was no concern about the supply of raw water. 

That being said, Johnson said they are operating at limited capacity because of the construction. While it wasn’t an issue last year and he’s not anticipating it to be an issue this year, Johnson did warn that any restrictions this summer would be due to construction and raw water supply. 

“We want to make sure that people are aware that if we have a long period of hot, dry weather, there is potential that we may have restrictions or ask the cities to manage that through restrictions which would be because of the construction project, not because of raw water supply,” he said. 

Below is a video timelapse of the plant renewal project: