The taps were literally turned on Monday at Charlottetown’s new multi-million-dollar wellfield.
A number of municipal, provincial and federal politicians showed up at a press conference to officially commission the Miltonvale Water Supply Project that will increase the city’s water supply capacity by 25 per cent and better position it to meet future demands.
The site, which is located in 200 acres of land on the outskirts of the northern end of the city, was identified as suitable for Charlottetown’s second water source in 2002. Until Monday, the Winter River Watershed was the only source of water for the city.
The project received support from the federal and provincial governments to the tune of $2.8 million for the mechanical and electrical work (the city contributed $700,000 of that total) and a further $5.2 million for the transmission and distribution lines ($1.3 million was the city’s contribution).
“It took a lot of years to get here,’’ said Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee, further noting that the entire project will be completed with no impact to water and sewer rates.
The new facility features five wells pumping 1,000 imperial gallons of water through the control building and into the city. Including the Water River Watershed, the city now has four large wellfields supplying water.
“About 10 years ago we really recognized the need for another water supply. We were coming near our limit with the existing three wellfields so we started very strongly developing this wellfield,’’ said Richard MacEwen, manager of the city’s Water and Sewer Utility. “Since then, our residents have come on board with water conservation. We’ve seen a 15 per cent reduction in water consumption within the city, which is great, and this is another 25 per cent availability for the city.’’
That 15 per cent reduction is credited to factors such as low-flush toilets and water meters.
Charlottetown MP Sean Casey said the status quo simply wasn’t working.
“I walked the dry creek beds along the Winter River . . . it was unsustainable,’’ Casey said. “This fixes that. It’s right for our health and our economy.’’
“This wellhead will allow the system to be balanced over the entire system,’’ said Communities, Land and Environment Minister Richard Brown.
MacEwen said the Winter River water supply wasn’t a concern but the amount the city was drawing was affecting the streamflow.
“Certainly we have an influence on stream flow and it allows us to reduce that influence,’’ MacEwen said.
MacEwen added that the new wellfield will service the newer part of the city that has been supplied since the 1960s.
The new wellfield is designed to provide up to 80 litres per second from the five wells. It includes nearly four kilometres of 500-millimetre diameter transmission mains to deliver the water into the city. A 100-kilowatt solar photovoltaic installation that will provide a third of the electricity needed to run the control station.
There is still more work to do on new additions to Charlottetown’s water supply. The reservoir portion of the project is still ongoing but should be completed later this year. And, the city has already identified other locations for future water supply, explaining that it can take 20 years to develop a new system.