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Water treatment program background


Since Shoal Lake is higher than Winnipeg, water flows downhill through the aqueduct. The aqueduct is a large concrete pipe that was built to carry the water. Construction started in 1915 and was completed in 1919. It cost 17 million dollars at the time and can carry 386 million litres, or 85 million gallons, of water per day.

Aerial view of Deacon Reservoir

Aerial view of Deacon Reservoir

Deacon Reservoir

Before it is treated, water from Shoal Lake is stored in Deacon Reservoir. The reservoir is on the east side of the Winnipeg floodway, a few kilometres south of highway 15. The reservoir was named after Thomas R. Deacon, the mayor of Winnipeg in 1913 who promoted the Shoal Lake project.

Water is stored at Deacon Reservoir to handle peak summer demands for water and to allow brief shutdowns of the aqueduct for maintenance. The four large outdoor reservoirs hold up to 8.8 billion litres (1.9 billion gallons) of water - enough to supply Winnipeg for about 30 days. Powerful pumps move the water from the reservoirs into the plant for treatment.

Treatment plant background

The new water treatment plant has been built at the Deacon Reservoir site. We examined several possible sites for the plant:Artist mock-up of the water treatment plant

  • Shoal Lake
  • upstream of Deacon, and
  • downstream of Deacon, near MacLean Reservoir.

The Deacon site is best because:

  • the original plan for the aqueduct included a future plant at Deacon
  • the infrastructure is in place
  • it is the most economical and reliable location for the plant
  • A Water Treatment Reserve Fund was set up in 1993 to save money for the water treatment program.
  • The Reserve, funded through water rates from 1993 to 2007, contributed $133 million towards the total program.
  • The remaining portion is financed through long-term debt.

Aerial view of Deacon Reservoir

Artist's concept of main entrance

Dec. 9, 2009 The plant begins sending treated water to the city.
Late 2009 Water treatment plant construction finishes.
May 2006 Ultraviolet light (UV) disinfection begins operating.
Spring 2005 Building the water treatment plant starts.
March 2005 Preliminary design and environmental effects study is finished.
Dec. 2004 Installation of ultraviolet light disinfection system is finished.
Pre-Dec. 2004 A number of water treatment technologies are tested and the combination that works best for Winnipeg's water is found. An initial design for the water treatment plant is prepared and experts are hired to prepare the final design and oversee the building of the plant.
Nov. 2000 City Council approves a water treatment program to:
  • protect against waterborne parasites,
  • meet evolving Canadian Drinking Water Quality guidelines,
  • reduce disinfection by-products, and
  • improve the taste, odour and appearance of the water.

Background water treatment plant reports

Artist conceptual image of water treatment plant

Artist's concept of water treatment plant
as seen from Trans-Canada Highway

Due to security and safety concerns, tours of this facility are not available.

A virtual tour of our drinking water treatment plant is available.

Last updated: April 15, 2024

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