By Joel van der Veen
CRAIK — The Town of Craik has taken one more step towards restoring drinking water for local residents.
Councillors have approved a water treatment method, based on the results of pilot projects carried out at the water plant this summer.
Engineers are working on a detailed design proposal, according to a written update provided to ratepayers, and the town expects to begin seeking tenders for the project in December.
Mayor David Ashdown told the Leader last week that the town is making good progress on the matter, despite some delays and challenges.
“It’s taking a bit longer than personally I had hoped,” he said. “It’s certainly important that we do things right.”
The mayor said he was encouraged by the positive results shown from the pilot projects.
Ashdown said he was hopeful that safe drinking water would be available in Craik in the summer of 2018.
Once the town’s water is found to meet provincial standards, a three-month test period will follow to ensure that the treatment system can maintain that level of quality. Only once that’s finished will the boil water advisory be lifted.
“A certain level of caution” is needed, the mayor said, adding, “Once the advisory is off, I’d like it to be staying off.”
Craik has been under a boil water advisory since August 17, 2010 for “failing to meet minimum disinfection levels.”
The town has faced ongoing issues with a water plant constructed in 2009 by Mainstream Water Solutions, a Regina firm that has since filed for bankruptcy.
The update to ratepayers, prepared by Ashdown, states that restoring Craik’s drinking water “has been and continues to be the first priority” for the mayor and council.
Craik began working with engineers from KGS Group in 2015 to find and compare solutions to its water woes.
Their efforts received a couple of financial boosts starting last fall, when ratepayers voted in favour of directing the insurance payout from the Eco-Centre fire, roughly $380,000, towards the water fund.
At the time, the town estimated that the advisory could be lifted as early as November 2017, though various delays have pushed that prediction back.
A federal-provincial grant of more than $1.42 million for Craik, through the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund, was announced in January 2017.
The additional funds opened up the possibility of finding a suitable ground water source for the town. An exploratory drilling program began early this year, but five test drills in various locations all came up negative.
As such Craik will continue drawing water from an intake at the Arm River dam east of town. Some modifications will be made to the intake to ensure “the cleanest water possible enters the treatment process.”
Mayor Ashdown said a reliable source of ground water would have been preferable, but ultimately wasn’t an option.