Fire breaks out at Estevan water treatment plant

Estevan Mercury
September 25, 2013 01:00 AM

They are fully operational again, but the City of Estevan still has some recovery work left after a fire Friday at the water treatment plant.

An electrical fire Friday afternoon forced the shutdown of the plant. Crews were able to partially restore the plant later that evening while full operations resumed Sunday morning.

Kevin Sutter, the manager of the City's water/wastewater treatment plant, said at no time was the quality and supply compromised due to the fire or the recovery process.

As for the fire itself, Sutter said two contractors were working in the electrical room of the plant when the fire began at 1 p.m. One contractor suffered a minor injury as a result of the incident.

Once the fire was extinguished by the Estevan Fire Rescue Service, the building was turned back over to WTP employees at 4:30 p.m.

"We inspected (the electrical room) and we found the switch gear that was damaged. We could not engage the plant so we had to put in some temporary switch gear into the essential controls," Sutter said. "That took until about midnight on Friday, and we got a portion of the plant going, so then we started making water again."

Sutter said crews were able to restore more of the plant's operations on Saturday and by Sunday morning they were back to full capacity.

He added that although they are back in operation, an on-site generator is currently powering the plant. At the time of the interview Monday they were working to get the plant back to utility power.

Because the plant was not fully operational until Sunday, the City issued a notice asking residents to conserve water. The notice was lifted on Sunday morning when activity resumed.

"As long as we were up and running at (partial status) we were OK," Sutter said. "We were asking the citizens to refrain from using a lot of water but it wasn't a big deal. If it was summer time it would have been a little bit more (of a problem). At this time of year the water demand is not really high so we had a little bit more time because of the time of year.

"We were not really in danger of running out of water but at the time we have to make decisions. We didn't know how long it was going to take. You're hoping things work out right and I think everything went as smoothly as we could expect regarding the circumstances."

Sutter said if they are unable to get back on the power grid in the very near future they will likely have to bring in a second generator to give them a redundant power source.

"As I described it to the City manager and council is we are on our spare tire."

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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