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This article was published 18/8/2020 (241 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The City of Winnipeg is hiring help to control invasive mussels, due to the risk the molluscs could interfere with its drinking water supply.
A request for proposal calls for a consultant to create a detailed design for an invasive mussel control system at the Shoal Lake aqueduct intake facility in Ontario, as well as a preliminary design to protect Winnipeg’s Deacon reservoirs.
"Zebra and quagga mussels have been introduced into North American waterways and are invasive mussels known for their bio-fouling capabilities (which can damage pipes)… As such, the likelihood of their introduction into Shoal Lake has increased," the RFP states.
Tim Shanks, manager of water services, said city officials have not yet detected these invasive species at Shoal Lake. But Shanks said Ontario officials did once trap a larval-stage zebra mussel at the lake and it’s "likely" the invasive species will wind up there.
Shanks said the city has a chlorination system that could control the invasive species, but it has been in place since the 1990s and should be updated to ensure the best and most cost-effective strategy is in place.
"The existing system is dated and if we had to run it all the time to protect against zebra mussels, we would want to improve it… The intent is to find some efficiency improvements and some savings, to just make sure we’re doing it the best way possible," said Shanks.
While invasive mussels shouldn’t affect water quality, they could significantly damage the infrastructure that ensures a steady water supply, if left unaddressed, he said.
"They physically attach to the inside of pipes and to the walls of facilities and gates and they clog things up… (And) the water supply to the city is drinking water, it’s fire protection, it’s everything. So we have to prepare."
Shanks said the consultant’s strategy would guide future construction on a new or updated system. It would also require a further city budget approval and likely won’t be built until at least 2023, he added.
For the Shoal Lake intake, the consultant is required to compare at least two potential chlorine dosing options for invasive mussel control, including cost estimates and how long each might last.
Coun. Brian Mayes, chairman of council’s water and waste committee, said the preparations are an important way to protect an essential service.
"It’s a core responsibility of the city, by any definition. We need a secure water supply," said Mayes (St. Vital).
The deadline for proposals is 12 p.m. Oct. 8, while the city expects to award the contract by Jan. 6, 2021.
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.