The City of Saskatoon is facing a $1.5 million remediation bill to address the discovery of hydrocarbons found in at least two neighbourhood’s fire hydrants in January and May.
Since January, people in 19 residences in the Aspen Ridge area have been using temporary water lines. More recently, in May, hydrocarbons were detected in three fire hydrants on a line that supplies a Costco store in Saskatoon’s Rosewood neighbourhood.
“First of all, I want to express our frustration that we’ve made this discovery in a different developing area of Saskatoon,” says Angela Gardiner, Acting General Manager of Transportation and Utilities, in a statement to media. “Right now we are conducting water tests to check the supply in the lines beyond the hydrants,” added Gardiner. “However, because we found hydrocarbons in these three hydrants, it means the [Water Security Agency] has ordered – as a strict precaution – the water supply can’t be used for personal contact.”
Personal contact under the city’s “do not use” water notice applies to drinking and washing with the fire hydrant water.
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In interviews with local media, Gardiner said she could not speculate as to how the contamination may have entered the hydrant system. She said she was unaware of any similar such incident in Canada.
Following the Costco hydrant discovery, city staff, contractors and store management worked through the weekend to establish a temporary water supply for the store.
A June report from the city’s Standing Policy Committee on Environment, Utilities and Corporate Services, is recommending that Stantec Consulting Ltd. develop and execute a remediation plan to address the hydrant contamination.
“The original scope of work was to determine a plan to develop a proposal for remediating hydrocarbon contaminated infrastructure,” states the staff report. “ In order to develop a remediation plan, the consulting engineer required investigation of the physical and chemical properties of the source contamination. The investigation has required extensive inspection of infrastructure, laboratory sampling and testing in order to determine the source material properties.”
Potential construction costs are not included in the $1.5 million remediation estimate, according to the staff report.
The staff report notes that certain phases will undergo remediation during the 2018 construction year, but some work may carry cover into the 2019 construction season.
According to the city, no contaminated water has been released into the environment.
Remediation plans could range from flushing the pipes with a cleaning solution to replacing the pipes.