The Chatham-Kent Public Utilities Commission has taken the next step in the search for a long-term solution to the discoloured water problem in Chatham.
At Thursday’s meeting, the PUC approved a bid by Dillon Consulting Ltd. of Chatham to review and implement a colour, taste and odour treatment process for the Chatham Water Treatment plant.
The bid of $49,000 was the lowest of three submitted for the proposal.
The amount only covers engineering fees.
Any costs for work or capital expenditures will need to be approved by the commission.
In late summer, Chatham residents were shocked by the sight of brown or yellow water flowing from their taps.
The discolouration was caused by the quality of the water coming into the Chatham water treatment plant through the intakes on Lake Erie.
According to the PUC, the annual temperature inversion in the lake led to a great deal of dissolved organic material being suspended in the water.
Levels of manganese were particularly high.
Tom Kissner, PUC general manager, said it’s premature to discuss what may be the preferred solution.
“There’s a granulated-activated carbon system that might help alleviate the problem. That’s probably one of the easiest solutions, if it is proven it can work,” said Kissner, adding that it’s also too early to estimate potential costs.
The commission also approved $72,000 for an environmental assessment to review the water supply for Wallaceburg and area.
The PUC has identified some issues with the area’s water system, including an aging infrastructure.
The water intake at the plant has also been shut down several times after spills upstream in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley.
Kissner said the plant also experiences problems related to high turbidity during wet weather.
The assessment, which will include public meetings, will consider options for the area’s water supply.
The job was awarded to Santec Consulting Ltd. of London.