The cost to fix roof leaks, concrete tanks and other problems at Winnipegs drinking water treatment plant has spiked.
The city now expects to spend $24 million on concrete rehabilitation and another $5 million to replace the main roof at the Deacon plant, according to a new public service report.
Officials also expect to re-establish a generation system for sodium hypochlorite (used to disinfect water), after the original equipment failed and led the city to order the chemical instead. The report does not list a price for that work.
In an email, water and waste spokesperson Lisa Marquardson confirmed these costs add to $1.7 million the city previously spent to address other problems at the plant.
Overall, the estimated tab to complete all repairs is now expected to reach around $31 million.
While the report notes the latest cost estimates are preliminary, that price would mark a massive increase from the roughly $6 million total repair tab city staff predicted in 2018.
The price hike raises many questions, according to the head of councils water and waste committee.
We havent been back to look at this (topic) for a while. There are questions to be asked. At first, it sounded like things were going to come in lower than expected, so if were back on the (worst-case scenario), thats not good, said Coun. Brian Mayes, whose committee is set to discuss the report May 3.
The $300-million Deacon water treatment plant began operation in December 2009. By 2012, it suffered from a leaky roof and some equipment had failed and/or exploded, a city legal statement claims.
In 2015, the city filed a lawsuit against multiple builders over alleged construction deficiencies at the plant.
Those allegations were never tested in court, however, because the city missed a key legal deadline to move the case forward.
Mayes noted that means the city, and its taxpayers, will be on the hook for the entire repair tab.
Its not like we can litigate our way out of it. Were going to have to get this thing done without recovering any costs, he said.
City water and waste officials were not available to answer questions about the cost increase Wednesday.
The city report said none of the deficiencies have affected the plants ability to provide safe drinking water.
Water treatment has always remained in compliance with the citys public water system operating licence, Linda McCusker, water and waste acting manager of engineering services, wrote in the report.
Mayes noted there have been few reports on the repairs to the plant since 2018.
Over the past few years, he said water and waste committee meetings have often focused on the citys two most expensive infrastructure projects: the $1.854-billion north end sewage plant upgrade and an up-to-$2.3-billion master plan to reduce combined sewer overflows.
Its expected to take more than a decade to complete all of the Deacon water plant repairs.
The report says the roof work should begin in 2023, while the sodium hypochlorite generation system design will begin in 2025. The concrete work is expected to begin with a design in 2023, and take 10 years or more to complete.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.