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City of Wetaskiwin water treatment plan issues investigation complete

The City of Wetaskiwin has completed their internal investigation into the malfunctions that occurred at the Wetaskiwin Water Treatment Plant in November 2021, which resulted in a community-wide stage 4 water restriction.

Wetaskiwin’s Water Treatment Plant experienced a shutdown in November 2021, which prevented any additional water from being treated for human consumption. This led to a very low reserve of potable water in the city’s reservoirs.

During this time the City of Wetaskiwin partially activated its Emergency Operations Centre to streamline the city’s response to the situation. This also helped the city to keep reservoir levels above the point where the water distribution system would depressurize and compromise the city’s ability to deliver safe, clean drinking water to the community.

“It’s important that citizens have uninterrupted access to clean and safe drinking water, which is why the City took considerable steps to prevent the contamination of our potable water,” stated City of Wetaskiwin manager, Sue Howard.

The investigation revealed several contributing factors that led to the Water Treatment Plant’s temporary shutdown. These factors included incomplete standard operating procedures and emergency response plans, a lack of employee accountability and control, and the mechanical failure of a system with no corresponding alarm.

Approximately $185,000 was spent on contracted help, staff time, equipment, and water haulers during the city’s response efforts. These costs included:

• $19,197.50 for staff time and equipment;

• $35,000 for contracted help;

• and $130,748.19 for water haulers.

“While the cost of this preventable issue was high, the alternative would have been much worse. Controls are now being put into place to help ensure this never happens again,” said Howard.

In response to these findings city administration has identified the following actions to be completed by early 2022:

• Review and update all standard operating procedures and emergency response plans;

• Ensure all chemical lines at the Water Treatment Plant have alarms to notify operators of issues before the system shuts down;

• And internally communicate the importance of notifying general managers and/or the city manager of potentially serious situations so senior administration can assist before the situation becomes an emergency.

The city says that it is immediately implementing the report recommendations and thanks all community members for adhering to the stage 4 water restriction.

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