Buffalo Pound water plant strives to balance algae bloom impact with construction schedule

The granular activated carbon filtration system at Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant is typically in place by May, but the plant’s $325-million upgrade construction process required a delay in adding the filters. Photo credit: Graham-Aecon

A strange taste and smell to the drinking water for Regina and Moose Jaw can be linked to a uniquely aggressive spring algae bloom and filtration limitations from construction, says the management of the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant.

The safe yet musty water coming from Buffalo Pound Lake was temporarily addressed at the plant through the addition of powdered activated carbon to reduce some algae taste and odour, plant management explained on its Facebook account. Typically, the plant’s granular activated carbon filtration system is fully in place by May, but the plant’s $325-million upgrade process required a delay in adding the filters, which also required an annual regeneration process.

The filters were also removed from service last November prior to a six-week unusual taste and odour event that was the result of natural compounds produced from the decay of large amounts of algae and weeds that grew in Buffalo Pound Lake last summer.

“The two recent taste and odour events are rare occurrences and plant staff are striving to manage them under the constraints of construction,” plant management wrote on Facebook.

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The filtration system was able to be added on May 16 and plant management said that any lingering taste and odour would dissipate within a few days.

Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency attributed the rare spurt of algae blooms to particularly calm, dry, hot weather with a lack of wind.

Plant management added that the ongoing upgrades — expected to be completed in 2025 — will provide taste and odour removal year-round for residents’ drinking water.

Plant management in partnership with Graham-Aecon have provided a series of videos that show how recent construction has progressed. The plant was built in 1955 and underwent its last major upgrade in 1989.

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