The backwash pump is running again and will have a service call to keep it going strong. Photo by Dauna Ditson

Radium water restored after boil-water advisory

Pioneer tours through the plant to learn how the water quality was affected and what was fixed

A series of unfortunate events at the Radium water treatment facility last week resulted in a boil water advisory that was in place from Tuesday to Friday.

First off, a hanging glacier calved and sent such a wild flood of water down Irish Creek that Radium chief administrative officer, Mark Read, said “it looked like a bulldozer had just gone down Irish Creek.”

So much sediment coursed into Radium’s water treatment plant that “the plant was basically operating at maximum capacity,” he said.

And then equipment started to fail.

One of the backwash pumps – which blasts sediment out of the water lines – made “a big grinding noise when it kicked on,” said plant operator Justin Nielsen.

He got that pump working, but two more pumps ran into trouble. The pump used for the chlorine tank gave out and had to be fixed. Another chemical pump crashed and had to be replaced with a new one.

Also a relay, which is like a giant fuse on the plant’s control panel, popped and had to be replaced.

And then there was a power outage. While the generator turned on like it was supposed to, he said there were some issues with switching between power sources.

The plant systems were working so hard to deal with the sediment that Mr. Read said: “It would be like revving your engine for six hours straight… My personal opinion is we just overstressed the plant.”

He doesn’t want to run the risk of having similar issues happen again and is interested in building more backups into Radium’s system – like securing another water source, putting a second water line across the Columbia River and adding a third filtration train at the plant. But such plans would come at a cost.

“I’m happy we bounced back,” Mr Nielsen said. “As far as spare parts go, we usually have an abundance of them.”

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