Hudson considers drawing water from Ottawa River

Hudson considers drawing water from Ottawa River
Hudson considers drawing water from Ottawa River

Hudson's Bradbury Well: the town hopes to build a new well in due time.

After four summers under a strict water ban, the town of Hudson is moving forward with plans to dig a new well, while also considering an ambitious long-term plan to possibly draw water from the Ottawa River that could end the town’s potable water woes.

Prior to last week’s regular council meeting, members of Hudson’s infrastructure committee summarized the current state of the town’s water infrastructure and proposed creating a steering committee to assess the viability of tapping the river for drinking water.

Although the two aquifers that supply the town are not currently short of water, forecasted regional growth may eventually become a strain on the aquifers. The committee is recommending that council not only proceed with the obvious short-term solution to dig a new well, but also consider building a water treatment plant that would allow Hudson to draw water from the river.

Touting the river’s “limitless” supply of water, committee member Jacques Bourgeois noted there are a number of other municipalities already drawing water from the waterway, including Hawkesbury, Ottawa and around 29 other municipalities in the Montreal area.

Based on costs in other towns, Bourgeois stated that the cost of building a new water treatment plant is estimated to be between $12- to $15-million to build, with ongoing costs of around $400,000 per year to operate. The estimate does not consider potential savings Hudson could find, such as reassigning existing staff instead of hiring new people.

Councillor Ron Goldenberg, the committee’s chairman, said the town council is open to exploring the possibility of drawing water from the river and is already looking for citizens to serve on creating a steering committee to co-ordinate a detailed feasibility study and present a non-binding recommendation to council. The committee will be responsible for selecting a specialized engineering firm to provide consulting services, including estimating the timeline and budget for such a project.

The feasibility study will also explore whether there is interest from neighbouring municipalities such as Rigaud or St-Lazare in partnering on a shared water treatment facility.

“The study will answer the question whether Hudson can do this project on our own, but most similar projects do involve more than one community,” Goldenberg said. “We’re happy to have partners if they’re willing.”

In the meantime, the town is moving forward with plans to establish a new well to serve its urban area. Only one of the area’s three wells is functioning as it should. Sand infiltration has reduced the ability of the newest well to draw water, while water produced by the other well is not suitable for drinking due to high levels of sodium, magnesium and iron.

During the regular council meeting, the town approved spending $52,000 to hire the hydrology-consulting firm Akifer to assess and finalize the location of a new well. Goldenberg said the final cost of the well wouldn’t be known until more is known about the final site selection, but said an earlier estimate earmarked the cost at $1.3 million. He said the work is believed to take a minimum of 12 months to complete.

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