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City says to limit water use | Video
Natascia Lypny, Leader-Post May 25, 2015
REGINA — The City of Regina is asking residents to limit water use as it faces processing issues at the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant.
The city wants residents to cut their unnecessary water use, like watering lawns, washing vehicles and filling kiddie pools. The municipality is also reducing its own water use in parks and green spaces.
“We’re hoping that this is only a couple of days until we can resolve this processing problem and then we’ll just go on normally,” said Pat Wilson, the city’s director of water works.
At issue is the quality of water in Buffalo Pound Lake, which feeds into the treatment plant. Algae in the lake has grown over recent years due to wet weather and increased run-off.
Recent fluctuations between daytime and nighttime temperatures have exacerbated the problem. Water is drawn into the plant at night, but the window during which it’s of an appropriate quality to do so is narrowing. The city is now receiving only 50 per cent of water from the plant than normal.
Plus, the hot, dry weather as of late has upped the city’s overall usage.
The city is using its eight backup wells to supplement treated water from the plant.
“Time will resolve this issue for us,” said Wilson, adding that the city is looking at treatment adjustments and is in talks with the Water Security Agency to find possible solutions.
The city hasn’t faced an issue like this since the 1980s, Wilson said.
She assured residents that other than limiting use, they shouldn’t be affected by this issue.
“The quality of the water that is delivered has been safe and will continue to be safe,” she said.
Watch a video about this: http://www.leaderpost.com/technology/City+says+limit+water+Video/11081719/story.html
Editorial: Too soon yet for 'D' word
Leader-Post May 26, 2015
Photograph by: Troy Fleece, Leader-Post
A sunny, dry spring and the biggest Saskatchewan fire ban in five years has inevitably led to some coffee row speculation about drought.
It's too early to use the "D' word, in our view, particularly given the still-fresh memory of the incredible deluge late last June that flooded communities and washed away crops across a wide southern area of the province.
Sure, many farmers would like to see some rain soon, but no one wants a repeat of the 200 millimetres some communities received in one weekend last summer. That rain came after a very snowy winter and continued a series of wet years that also saw major provincial flooding in 2011.
So, while this spring has been drier than we've been used to in recent years, there's still lots of time for some significant - and we hope gentle - rain. Forecasts for thunderstorm in the Saskatoon area failed to deliver on the weekend, but there's still a chance they will come through.
That said, speculation about drought is understandable. Wet climate cycles have inevitably been followed by dry ones in this province and this spring's tally of 183 wildfires qualifies as "above average." It's almost double the 97 fires that had been recorded in the province at this time last year.
Vancouver Sun columnist Stephen Hume warned last month that climate change had dramatically eroded British Columbia's mountain snow cover and shrunk its glaciers in the past 50 years. He said a crisis loomed for western Canadian cities reliant on rivers fed through the summer by B.C.'s mountains.
As well, a study published this spring by researchers who used data and computer models to simulate glacier behaviour projected that B.C. and Alberta could lose as much as 70 per cent of their 1,700 remaining glaciers by the end of the century.
"We had better start thinking now about what happens when the winter snows and glacial melt that supply Prairie cities with drinking water are diminished and at worst simply gone, like California's," Hume noted.
Alberta's Columbia Icefield, which feeds the North Saskatchewan River, is retreating at more than five metres a year, as are the mountain sources that keep the water flowing in the South Saskatchewan.
If we are honest, we do take our water for granted - it is readily available and relatively cheap. That might not always be the case, so we had better plan for scarcity and conserve and use our water wisely.
Meantime, in this season of heightened fire risk, campers need to take particular care - not only in the north, where the fire risk is particularly high, but across much of the rest of the province.
Farmers have also been urged to take extra precautions with controlled burns on their land that could get out of control and spread.
It's dry in many places for sure. But the jury is still out on whether Saskatchewan's recent wet cycle is really at an end.
Ottawa rated most 'flood-proof' city in Canada
Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen May 21, 2015
Chris Mikula / The Ottawa Citizen
They picked a near-drought to tell us, but experts have rated Ottawa as the most flood-proof big city in Canada.
Just about everything we do is done right, says the study commissioned by The Co-operators and written by Prof. Blair Feltmate and his team at the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development at the University of Waterloo.
That includes flood plain mapping, reliable food retailers and supplies of electricity and fuel, good health care, roads and telecommunications systems, and of course, good drainage.
Some of the things the 65-page study likes about us are:
We updated our flood plain maps beginning in 2012, and we’re good at preventing construction on flood-prone lands;
• The city “monitors storm sewer inlet and outlet grates and clears them regularly,” and clears river ice out of the way to prevent jams in spring;
• “Ottawa has completed a fuel management guide and has done work to ensure redundant supply of petroleum for key city activities and facilities.”
• “Ottawa is using flood plain mapping to identify where roads may be inundated during floods to improve route planning.”
• We have backup supplies of fuel and electricity. Among all the 15 cities in the survey, it says, “only the City of Ottawa indicated that sustainment of redundant power supply is included in the budget process.”
Ottawa rated an A-minus. All other cities got a B-plus or lower. Toronto and Montreal each got B-minus and Halifax finished last, with a D.
The study said common problems across the country are that groceries, fuel and banking services are all in the private sector, and it’s hard for cities to plan to keep them available if there’s a flood. As well, building owners aren’t rushing to install equipment that keeps drains from backing up into basements.
Energy East pipeline would threaten Manitoba's drinking water: report
Chinta Puxley, The Canadian Press May 24, 2015
WINNIPEG - A new report says a pipeline that would carry millions of barrels of oil from Alberta to the East Coast would threaten the drinking water of over 60 per cent of Manitoba residents.
The report by the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition said a rupture on the proposed Energy East pipeline would seep into any number of waterways which feed into Winnipeg's water supply.
The pipeline would transport one million barrels of oil a day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries and port terminals on the East Coast.
Part of the line would run underneath an aqueduct carrying Winnipeg's drinking water from Shoal Lake near the Ontario boundary.
Dennis LeNeveu, a retired biophysicist and author of the report, said the oil would be carried across Manitoba in a 40-year-old repurposed natural gas line. Such pipelines can get corroded and have ruptured four times in Manitoba in the last 20 years, he said.
The entire length of Winnipeg's aqueduct would be in danger of contamination from the nearby pipeline, LeNeveu said.
"Every township and section has roads with ditches that drain to streams or the drains that have been constructed around Winnipeg," he wrote in the report released Monday. "This means that valve closure on a major water crossing would not necessarily be effective, (since) a rupture on a minor water crossing could drain into Winnipeg."
Other communities in Manitoba would be vulnerable as well, LeNeveu said. Many draw their water from rivers that would intersect with the proposed pipeline, he said.
There would also be "a significant risk of rupture and explosion" from a nearby natural gas line in Manitoba as well, LeNeveu said. Such an explosion could "easily be as large or larger" than the train derailment and explosion that killed 47 people in Lac Megantic, Que., almost two years ago, the report said.
"The smoke plume from such an explosion and fire could necessitate the immediate evacuation of the entire population of Winnipeg should it occur nearby."
Any spill could have a serious impact on the commercial fishery, farms and hunting, LeNeveu said. In the event of a large leak, the city of Winnipeg and Manitoba could be on the hook for cleanup costs, he added.
"Winnipeg has much to lose from the pipeline crossing within its boundaries and little to gain."
Regina gets C-minus for flood prep
Leader-Post May 23, 2015
A study of Canadian cities' flood preparedness has given Regina a C-minus, but the city is defending its emergency plans. Regina ranked 13 out of 15 municipalities in a report from the University of Waterloo's environment faculty.
"I don't think the C-minus is representative of the level of preparedness the city has got. You really do have to contextualize this report," said Ernie Polsom, Regina's director of fire and protective services.
He pointed to the higher risks of flooding for some of the study's other participants like Calgary, Whitehorse and Winnipeg. The primary water risk Regina faces, Polsom said, is with rainstorm events.
But Kim Irving, president of Emergency Response Management Consulting, said "the discipline of being prepared needs to be the focus," regardless of a municipality's risk profile.
In the study, Regina scored well in floodplain mapping, land-use planning and transportation systems. It faltered, however, in urban drainage maintenance, water supply and raw waste management.
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