Hinton Water Treatment Plant
Since the construction of the Pulp and Paper Mill in Hinton during the late 1950’s, the facility has supplied potable water to the residents and businesses of the Town of Hinton. During this time, the owners of the Mill and the Town of Hinton have worked together to keep potable water flowing through an arrangement that has been unique within Alberta.
What is happening with the treatment of potable water in Hinton?
Beginning in 2015, the Town of Hinton and West Fraser have been working on the Water Treatment Plant (WTP) Transfer Project to transition the responsibility of providing potable water to the Town of Hinton from West Fraser. In order to move the project forward in a timely manner the project was spilt into two phases. The objective of Phase 1 is to transfer the operation of the potable water equipment and systems installed in 2011 to the Town of Hinton. After the transfer, the Town of Hinton becomes responsible for the supply of potable water to its residents and businesses. West Fraser’s role is reduced to provide partially treated water to the Town for further treatment.
The objective of Phase 2 is to move to the position where West Fraser only provides water from the Athabasca River to the Town of Hinton for full treatment. At the end of Phase 2, the treatment of potable water will be fully transitioned from West Fraser to the Town, relieving West Fraser of any water treatment responsibilities.
Why does the operation of the potable water plant need to move from West Fraser to the Town of Hinton?
Changes in potable water supply standards and guidelines in 2006 resulted in the upgrade of the water treatment process in 2011. Since then, the requirements and responsibilities for those operating potable water treatment processes in Alberta have increased significantly.
As a result of the tightening of potable water standards and recognizing that potable water supply is not one of West Fraser’s business lines, West Fraser Mills Ltd. informed the Town of Hinton that they wished to remove their liability with regards to supplying potable water to the Town of Hinton’s residents and businesses. The Town and West Fraser have been working on the transition of operations, with no negative impact in water supply or quality to our community.
Will these changes increase my taxes or my utility rates?
The Town of Hinton proactively implemented a water treatment plant utility surcharge of $5 per billing period beginning in May 2015 to cover some of the anticipated costs associated with the transition. Since the beginning of 2018, the Town of Hinton has been evaluating the impacts of Phase 1 and 2 of the Water Treatment Plant Transfer Project. Information and costs are being developed to determine an economically responsible approach for the Town’s future potable water supply. Once the financial impacts are understood, further information will be shared within the community.
What is the timeline for the transition and the long-term plan for potable water treatment in Hinton?
The transition of potable water treatment operations from West Fraser to the Town of Hinton will be completed in two phases:
Phase 1 includes the physical separation of equipment and control systems from West Fraser, engagement of new water treatment operators, negotiation of agreements between the Town and West Fraser, coordination with Alberta Environment and Parks (the potable water regulatory body), and an application for a new Waterworks System Approval.
At this time, the Town has met all of its obligation with regards to the Phase 1, with the exception of a new Waterworks System Approval from AEP which is due in late Fall 2018.
Phase 2’s objective is to move to a position where West Fraser only provides the Town of Hinton with untreated water from the Athabasca River. To permit the Town of Hinton take river water from West Fraser and provide potable water to its residents and businesses, the Town will have to design and construct a new facility in stages which will “bypass” West Fraser’s existing pre-treatment processes.
The Town of Hinton has approached an owner of private land where the Town has identified a potential location to build Phase 2, with the intent of entering into negotiations for land purchase. Subject to a number of external influences, the preliminary timeline for Phase 2 is:
- Complete land negotiations and procurement by the end of 2018
- Complete field investigation and preliminary design in 2019
- Start detailed design in late 2019 with a target of tendering construction in late 2020
- Start construction in early 2021
West Fraser and the Town are targeting completion of Phase 2 by early 2022.
For Further Information, please contact:
Town of Hinton
Attention of Gordie Lee
Infrastructure Services Director
2nd Floor, 131 Civic Center Road
Hinton, AB, T7V 2E5
West Fraser Mills Ltd.
Attention of Jerrett Dyck
760 Switzer Drive
Hinton, AB T7V 1V7