A water treatment plant expansion grant was issued to the City of Portage la Prairie to the tune of $35 million dollars. It was announced this past Monday at City Council meeting. The project involves efforts to see the water supply shutdowns to Portage residents and businesses occur as few times as possible. 

Councillor Faron Nicholls says Portage is extremely privileged to receive such input and outlines how they'll proceed from this point.

"The province has agreed to technically fund half of the water treatment plant upgrade for us," says Nicholls. "We have to move forward with, number one, accepting to move forward with design to find out exactly what that looks like. We have a pretty good idea, but these are the first steps in the province's offering. They have given us $35 million, which is in terms of the construction piece and then some for design, as well. So, we need to take this first step forward and get on the road to design."

Director of Utility Karly Friesen says the current water treatment facility is operating beyond what is referred to as firm capacity.

"We are not at total capacity, but we are getting close," explains Friesen. "So, we're limited in terms of what we can do for maintenance. We'd want to try to minimize the impact of shutdowns on our industries and our residential users. This expansion will not only give us additional capacity to be able to do proper maintenance and have a more reliable redundant system, but it will also provide additional capacity for future users."

Nicholls adds it's a very exciting venture for Portage. He notes, at this point, they want to have a plan forward on how they'll fulfill this project. 

Friesen adds once they move forward with confirmation from the province and sign some funding agreements, the design is predicted to take up to a year to formulate. 

"At that point, we would have almost tender-ready documents should we be moving forward with the actual construction," says Friesen. "That's estimated to be up to a two-year construction period."