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Water Week

Water Week 2016 is from March 21-27! We challenge you to Put Waste In the Right Place and Be Water Wise

Saskatoon’s urban water eco-system

From planning and construction, to operations and quality control at the facilities, to maintaining and repairing the underground pipes, more than 400 City employees are directly involved in providing safe, high-quality drinking water for Saskatoon.  We are always looking for energetic labourers who want to grow into a career with the City.

Importance of Water

Water Treatment Plant

Waste Water Treatment Plant

Where does my water come from?

Water is taken directly from the South Saskatchewan River at the City’s Raw Water Intake and Pump Station Facility upstream from the Water Treatment Plant. The raw water is screened and then pumped to the Water Treatment Plant with 900 horsepower turbine pumps. These pumps typically manage 125 million litres/day, with the capacity for 545 million litres/day for future water peak demands of a city of 500,000 residents.

When the raw water reaches the Water Treatment Plant, potassium permanganate is added to address taste and odour problems with raw river water.  The water then enters the sand separator units to remove suspended sand particles.

Importance of Water

Water Treatment Plant

Waste Water Treatment Plant

Producing safe water

Saskatoon has one the safest water supplies in North America. A clean and safe water supply is one of the top priorities for Saskatoon residents. We take pride in the quality of our water supply, and are committed to ensuring all precautions are taken to keep our citizens safe when work or construction is occurring on the water supply system.

Water Treatment Plant

Water Treatment Plant

How does the water flow?

Saskatoon has roughly 1267 km of underground water main pipes that carry water from the Water Treatment Plant to every property in Saskatoon. These pipes are made in various sizes and materials. About 35 per cent were made before 1970; and are at a higher risk for breaking. On average, the City repairs 255 breaks each year at a cost of approximately $11,000 each.

Water main breaks are caused by extreme weather changes – both cold and hot. The temperature change causes the ground to expand or contract, which shifts the underground pipes. Normally a pipe can withstand this type of movement, but where there are weak points, a leak or break can occur.   Water main pipe breaks occur in the summer and winter; however, a water outage during winter can be more inconvenient.

It is the City’s goal to repair a break and restore water within 24 – 48 hours. Once the repair is completed and the water is turned back on, a Drinking Water Advisory (DWA) will be in place for 2 to 3 days. You will be notified with a door hanger when the DWA is issued and again when it is lifted.

The City records the location of breaks and has an annual program to replace 3- 4 kilometres of water mains.  Locations with the highest break rates are selected for replacement. In 2015, the City is investing $3.5 million dollars to repair 18 sections of pipe between May to mid-October.

Be prepared.  Every home should be prepared for an unexpected water outage by having a supply of bottled drinking water.  It is recommended to have enough water for a 72-hour period, which amounts to 3.8 litres (one gallon) per person or pet per day.

Water main breaks & repairs

In my home

Treated water flows from the Water Treatment Plant to water mains (or pipes) located underground throughout the city. Water enters individual properties though a water service connection.

If your neighbourhood was established prior to 1950 there could be lead within your home’s plumbing system.  As a precaution, homeowners and tenants should be aware of how to reduce their risk of lead exposure from drinking water.

The City offers a voluntary Lead Replacement Program and these replacements are completed as funding allows for the City’s portion of the cost.

The City is responsible for the portion of the connection located on City property and replaces this portion if there is a failure (leak), or if road reconstruction is being completed in the area. You are responsible for the portion of the connection located on your property.

Lead pipes and drinking water

Cross connection control program

How can I use less water?

The average person in Saskatoon uses 233 litres of water per day for drinking, showering, washing dishes and clothes, watering the lawn and using the washroom! By making simple changes, families can help reduce greenhouse gases and protect our water resources.

By using water responsibly and implementing simple water conservation practices, families can become better stewards of the environment by reducing greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere and protecting water supplies.

Water Conservation Tips:

  • Only water the lawn once a week (and skip watering if it rains) and avoid watering during the heat of the day or during windy times.
  • Repair leaky faucets and toilets immediately.
  • Run your dishwasher or washing machine only when you have a full load. This can save as much as 1,875 to 3,000 litres every month.
  • Use low-flush fixtures such as water-saving shower heads and ultra- low flow toilets.

Learn more about water conservation and Be Water Wise.

Where does the drain water go?

Every time you flush the toilet, take a shower or wash the dishes, you send wastewater down the drain to an underground network of more than 850 kilometres of sewer pipes. These pipes, through gravity and a series of pumping stations, carry the wastewater to the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Gravity is the main force of wastewater movement through the system. Pumping is sometimes required to physically lift the wastewater to a higher elevation so it can flow by gravity to the treatment plant. There are 28 pumping stations in Saskatoon.

At the Wastewater Treatment Plant, the wastewater is treated and the remaining liquid, called effluent, is released into the South Saskatchewan River while the biosolids are pumped to a storage site north of the city. The biosolids are a desirable source of fertilizer and liquid injection into farm fields is in high demand.

A separate network of pipes collect any water that flows across the land from ponds, pipes, culverts, ditches, outfalls, manholes, and catch basins used to collect rainwater and snowmelt from streets, sidewalks, lanes, and private properties.  During normal rainfall, the water on the street, called Stormwater, naturally flows towards the low points into storm drains (catch basins ) located at the curbs of roads and then moved via a piping system to large stormwater sewer system. Eventually the stormwater flows untreated into to the South Saskatchewan River.

In newer neighbourhoods, the catch basins drain into large ponds surrounded by green space called Storm Retention Ponds. They are located at the neighbourhood’s low point and are designed to prevent property damage from flooding during a major rainfall.  During a major storm, when surface flooding can occur, the water flows overland to the pond.  The water collects in the pond and is slowly released into the storm sewer system through the storm sewer pipes to the outfall structure where it discharges into the river.  Learn more about residential storm retention ponds.

Putting Waste in the Right Place: What do I do with fats, cooking oil, and grease?

Fats, cooking oil and grease in the drain can create obstructions in sewer systems, polluting rivers and clogging the sewer pipes on your street. When they go down the drain, they clog pipes, create odours and can cause costly sewer backups in your home and business. Follow these simple steps to for proper elimination and disposal:

1. WIPE IT - Wipe cooking coil, butter, sauces and salad dressings off cooking equipment using paper towels before washing. Scrape any excess residue from plates, pots and pans as well. 

2. TOSS IT - Scrape and toss any leftover solid food into a garbage container before washing the dishes or putting them in the dishwasher. Never put eggshells, coffee grounds, or kitty litter down the drain or toilet. Put vegetables and fruit peels in your Black Cart or Green Cart, and use your garbage disposal sparingly. 

Collect excess fats and oils in a sealed container after cooling and place in your Black Cart. Use proper recycling centres to dispose of your motor oil and other hazardous material. Use the Waste Wizard at saskatoon.ca/wastewizard for proper disposal. 

3. CLEAN IT - Monitor your grease trap weekly. Use a turkey baster to measure the grease build-up. 

How can I properly dispose of cleaning wipes/sanitary products and other waste materials?
  • Cleaning wipes/sanitary products should not be flushed down the toilet, but thrown out with your regular garbage (even ones advertised as flushable wipes).
  • Cooking oils should be left to cool, placed in a resealable container (such as a yogurt tub), and then thrown out with your regular garbage. 
  • Strong chemicals, pesticides, etc. should be taken to one of the City's Household Hazardous Waste disposal days. 

On average the City responds to approximately 100 sewer main blockages per year due to grease and over 3,500 home blockages which are due to roots, grease and wipes/sanitary products flushed down the line. Approximately 20% of that  total is due to grease/personal hygiene products (700/year).

Improper disposal of these items could result in sewage backup in your home, and could be costly.