A public well was bored in 1902 and a water pumping station was built in conjunction with the powerhouse reservoir for Swift Current. In 1910 the citizens voted to construct a waterworks and sewage system and in 1911 the first water and sewer mains were installed in the downtown. The sewer mains were made of brick and wood and drained into the creek.
Swift Current built a dam in 1913 that created a water reservoir and flooded the popular park area, Fenton's Grove. Until this time the water from the CPR dam had been used. In 1914 Swift Current became a City and built their first sewage disposal plant, although most of the sewage still drained into the creek. In 1921 Swift Current expanded the water and sewage works and by 1934 the City passed a bylaw that prohibited recreational use on the reservoir due to water quality problems. A deputy from Public Health stated "I wish to point out that the City of Swift Current is the only City in the province which supplies unfiltered water from a surface source to its residents." Water samples frequently showed high counts of coliform bacteria indicating contamination. A water filtration plant was approved and built in 1936 and a water reservoir at South Hill was completed in 1941 after six years of planning and construction.
Duncairn Dam was completed in 1943, which provided a long term guaranteed water supply for Swift Current.
As the population increased there was a shortage of treated water which led to restrictions on water use, as the water filtration plant could not keep up with the demand. The city added some indoor public restrooms, expanded their water and sewer mains, and constructed a new sewage disposal plant with a sludge removal tank. The continuous discharge of sewage into the Swift Current Creek lasted from 1911 to 1958. In 1958 the city built two sewage lagoons and after that sewage effluent discharges into the creek were only made in spring and fall when needed, rather than a continuous sewage discharge into the creek year round. In 1970 the provincial environment department warned Swift Current that they would have to develop an alternative to dumping sewage into the creek.
During the 1970's the City upgraded their water and sewer systems and in 1976 built another sewage lagoon. An effluent irrigation project began in 1978 after five years of planning. The project disposed of a great deal of sewage and reduced discharges into the creek. In 1987 an inspection of the main sewage lines indicated that the lines laid in the 1950's would have to be replaced. Effluent discharges into the creek in 1991 and 1993 caused a great deal of public controversy from both local and downstream users. A fourth sewage lagoon was constructed and the water treatment plant was upgraded in 1994. In 1996 additional effluent irrigation land and pipes were purchased and in 1997 the controversial snow fluent plant was built. The snow fluent plant never functioned as expected and was eventually decommissioned. An accidental effluent spill into the creek resulted in a fine for the City in 1999, and to reduce the chances of this happening again, drainage around the existing sewage lagoons was enhanced and valves that automatically close when dugout levels are too high were installed in 2001.
In 2003 city council passed a resolution that approved construction of a sewage treatment plant to fulfill a requirement from Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment that a plan for the future be implemented as dumping of effluent (treated waste water) into the Swift Current Creek would no longer be permitted. The Swift Current Waste Water Treatment Plant (SCWWTP) was completed in 2007 to biologically treat the waste water produced by the City of Swift Current. Under strict guidelines set forth by Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency (WSA), the SCWWTP has been producing an extremely high quality of effluent since its commissioning, providing a reusable water resource for downstream residents and reducing the strain on Swift Current’s lagoon system.
Preliminary treatment methods remove heavy material and grit. Once this material is removed, the biological process begins. Microorganisms work to breakdown the pollutants, reducing the nutrients in the effluent by as much as 99%. This reduction of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen and the Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) of the effluent has little impact on the Swift Current Creek maintaining the existing ecosystems with no disruptions. Once the biological portion is complete, two circular clarifier tanks allow the concentrated microorganisms (called sludge) to settle out, before being pumped back into the process, or wasted to the lagoon. The clarified effluent is disinfected by means of ultra-violet light before being discharged to the receiving stream. The SCWWTP, located east of the City along Highway #1, treats an average of 1,750,000 cubic meters of waste water annually. (Information courtesy of the City of Swift Current website)
The Swift Current Creek is the sole source of municipal water for the City of Swift Current. Reid Lake provides long-term water storage with the Swift Current weir creating a 2-3 day water supply prior to water entering the water treatment plant. The following is the water treatment process used by the City of Swift Current Water Treatment Plant (SCWTP).
The water treatment process at the plant involves multiple physical and chemical treatments. The first process is the pre-treatment of the water using two chemicals. Potassium Permanganate removes manganese, and reduces tastes and odors, Powder Activated Carbon remove some disinfection byproducts and treat seasonal tastes and odors.
Actiflo clarifiers provide the primary treatment which is coagulation and ballasted flocculation. Aluminum sulfate is added to help particles in the water collect and stick together to complete the coagulation process. Carbon dioxide is added to reduce the pH of the water which makes the aluminum sulfate treatment more efficient. This is quickly followed by ballasted flocculation where a polymer and microsand are added to make the coagulated particles heavier.
After passing through the Actiflo clarifiers the pH of the water is adjusted up with sodium hydroxide to get it to neutral pH of 7.0 and is then filtered to remove any particles that were not removed during primary treatment.
Disinfection and Fluoridation
After filtration, chlorine is added for disinfection and Fluoride is added for dental hygiene. This is followed by ultraviolet disinfection which will inactivate any living cell that has not been killed by the chlorine.
After the water is disinfected, it is pumped to the South Hill Reservoir which holds around 6,800,000 litres of water, the equivalent of 10 Olympic sized swimming pools. From there water is pumped into the water distribution system and to the North Hill Reservoir which also holds 6,800,000 litres.
Winter average usage is around 6 million litres of water per day. Summer usage is around 12-15 million litres per day but at peak times can be above 22 million litres of water. The max flow rating for the plant is 30 million litres per day.
Extensive remodelling was completed in 2012 with Actiflo clarifiers with pH adjustment and Ultaviolet (UV) disinfection added. A new laboratory and chemical storage facilities were also built.
(Information courtesy of the City of Swift Current website)