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Work to begin on city water reservoir replacement

The construction crew tasked with replacing and removing St. Albert's oldest water reservoir and pump house on Sunset Boulevard is gearing up to start the project, which is expected to take two years to finish.

A construction crew is gearing up to remove and replace St. Albert's oldest water reservoir, on Sunset Boulevard, and the location is slated to eventually become a public park.

The Sturgeon Heights Reservoir and Pump Station, built in 1957, is one of three facilities that stores and distributes potable water to St. Albert homes and businesses. The reservoir is no longer able to sustain repairs, and after a significant leak was patched in one of the three underground tanks in 2017, council approved replacing the facility entirely. The project is expected to take two years to finish. 

The project will be completed in phases with a nearly $33.5 million budget. Phase 1, set to begin next month, will see the snow-covered soccer field along Salisbury Avenue dug up and the new reservoir installed underneath. An above-ground facility will be built near the corner of Salisbury Avenue and Sycamore Avenue.

As the current facility is the main source of water from the City of Edmonton's supply line, the city says it will continue to operate until the new reservoir is functional so water service is not disrupted. 

"This means the new structure must be located within Salisbury Park to utilize the current underground infrastructure as well as to maintain water pressure and meet demand requirement," reads a city presentation document prepared for an open house last February. 

"Once construction of the new reservoir and pump station is complete and operational, the current reservoir and pump station will be decommissioned, and restoration of the park will take place."

The current reservoir and corresponding facility neighbouring Holy Family Catholic School will be removed and remediated in two phases, the document says. 

The final phase of the project will see a newly designed public park, including pathways, a gathering area, restored soccer fields, and new trees planted throughout. 

Parts of the current park behind the school will be closed during construction, including the off-leash walking area, which will be off-limits starting next month. 

The outdoor rink at the corner of Salisbury Avenue and Swallow Crescent will remain open throughout construction. 

A fourth reservoir planned for 2038

While crews replace the Sturgeon Heights Reservoir, the city will look to purchase land in the northern part of St. Albert this year for a fourth reservoir, which is expected to be needed by 2038.

The 2023 budget set aside $1.9 million to buy the plot. It is being purchased far in advance, with land value expected to rise significantly as the city continues to expand north.

"The need for a future north reservoir was identified in the 2013 Utility Master Plan," the project charter states. "With recent addition of the annexation lands, it is anticipated that the North Reservoir could be as large as 62,500 cubic metres at full build-out."

For comparison, the Sturgeon Heights Reservoir being replaced has a storage capacity of 23,000 cubic metres, meaning it can hold 23 million litres of water.

"At a growth rate of 1.3 per cent, it is anticipated that additional reservoir storage will be needed in the year 2038," the charter says.

"This project is essential to support the anticipated development in the north, including recently annexed lands."

The project charter says that design work isn't expected to begin until 2036, with construction in 2038.

Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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