Blueprint for water delivered to city

The future of the delivery of water in Grand Forks was revealed in a public meeting last week.

The future of the delivery of water in Grand Forks was revealed in a public meeting last week.

At the Feb. 24 committee of the whole meeting, Ken Oliver of Urban Systems delivered the Water Supply Plan for the city, a report expected to detail alternatives to building another reservoir.

The city had engaged Urban Systems— a consulting firm that works on strategic planning, engineering, environmental science and urban design services—in 2012 to formulate the plan.

The purpose of the water plan was to provide a blueprint for managing the city’s water system into the future, said Oliver at the meeting.

“You have great plans for this community; you want to move forward; water is an integral part of your infrastructure,” he said. “We want to help you through this plan not only for today but for tomorrow as well.”

Oliver said that, under an asset management program developed for the city, the idea for the water management plan was to organize the city’s assets and resources and build upon them.

There have been several big changes affecting the water supply that have occurred since 2011.

“Some things have changed since we did our original report,” said Oliver. “(Remi Allard) and Associates did their water well assessment and what they told us is that your confirmed water supply will drop by 53 per cent (from 199 litres per second to 94) because what they suggested is that those wells are being pumped at a higher rate than they should be.”

The city also had divers check the reservoir capacities and they’re 22 per cent lower than previously thought.

Thirdly, with the onset of the water metering program, water supply is expected to drop in Grand Forks.

The new water supply plan was approved by Grand Forks city council and work has already begun, according to Sasha Bird, manager of development and engineering for the City of Grand Forks.

It’s a 20-year plan, she said.

“For over 40 years, the councils have talked about building another reservoir to balance the system,” Bird said. “Right now we have no way of draining that reservoir and cleaning it up. It has to stay online because it’s the only one we have.”

Bird said the city had Urban Systems re-evaluate the earlier pre-design report for another reservoir and they came up with a cost of $6.6 million.

“We told them we couldn’t afford that,” she said, and noted they asked the consultants to find some other alternatives.

“They told us our alternatives are to install gen sets on your wells and install a new well and basically use your ground water as your storage.”

A gen set is a back-up generator that allows for the well to still pump in the event of a power failure.

Points in the plan

The main recommendations in the water supply plan include: installing the back-up generators, install a bypass at the booster station, install a new well with new dimensions to meet today’s requirements including fire flows.

“If we do all that, we’ll save ourselves 11 years before we need to install another well,” said Bird.

Bird added that the 20-year plan was built on the anticipation of a 25 per cent decrease in water supply demand expected with the installation of residential water meters.

“It’s also based on a scaling back of how we pump at our wells, which is what Remi (Allard, hydro-geologist) recommended in his report,” she said.

Mayor Brian Taylor said that not having to build another reservoir in the near future will save the city a great deal of money.

“Urban Systems looked at this water supply plan and basically said we can meet our maximum flow requirements and our safety requirements for fire by putting gen sets on certain pumps and using our control system to use our existing wells as a reservoir,” he said. “The plan has literally saved us millions of dollars.”

The city has already begun installing the gen sets. Taylor said they would help with keeping water flowing in the event of a fire.

When the power goes out, the last thing you want is for the water system to fail us in that scenario, he said.

“The gen set will make sure we’ll still have water pressure,” said Taylor.



The City of Grand owns and operates the city municipal water system

Well capacity is 276 LPS (liters per second)


2  – 26

3 – 99

3a – 33

5 – 10

5 – 108



2012 report

Two reservoirs: Eastside (capacity 3450 m3)

and Valley Heights (450 m3)


Booster station

And 100 km of mains


Maximum Day Demand (MDD)


2008 – 14,474

2009 – 14,264

2010-11  – data not available

2012 -13,000