Water Treatment Process

Plant Operation

The Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant is staffed 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Through the use of sophisticated control systems and advanced instrumentation, the Plant ensures a continuous and safely-treated supply of water within an environmentally-responsible and cost-efficient operation. Dedicated and highly trained experts in the field continuously monitor and optimize the Plant to ensure that our consumers receive water of high quality.

Water Treatment

Raw water from Buffalo Pound Lake passes through a series of treatment stages designed to remove impurities such as algae, bacteria, clay particles and dissolved organic materials. The objective of this treatment is to produce water that is clear, colourless, odour-free, aesthetically pleasing and safe to drink.

The treatment process consists of six stages: chlorination, cascade de-gasification, coagulation/flocculation, clarification, filtration and carbon adsorption.

BPWTP Plant Processes thumb

  • step 1

    Lake water enters a pumping station located on the south shore of Buffalo Pound Lake through two submerged intakes. Raw water is chlorinated and then pumped to the treatment plant via two pipelines connecting the pumping station to the main treatment plant. The pipelines are 1.05 and 1.35 metres in diameter, extend a distance of 3,000 metres and rise 82 metres. After reaching the Plant, water is initially divided into two streams, each of which has cascade de-gasification, coagulation/flocculation and clarification. The streams are then recombined for the final stages of treatment, including filtration, carbon adsorption and further chlorination.

  • step 2

    Cascade operation is normally used during periods of excessive dissolved gas levels in the raw lake water. Excessive dissolved gases are most commonly produced by photosynthetic bacteria and algae. During cascade de-gasification, the water falls over a series of steps which releases excess dissolved gasses and prevents the formation of gas bubbles in later treatment processes. Clarification and filtration processes could be impeded by gas bubbles that attach to particles of floc, causing them to float, rather than sink, and by causing air binding in the filters.

    If conditions warrant, Powdered Activated Carbon (PAC) is added to reduce taste and odour. The use of PAC, while relatively infrequent, is occasionally necessary when granular activated carbon contactors are off line or to temporarily reduce the odour loading when the contactors are on-line.


  • step 3

    Aluminium sulphate (alum) is vigorously mixed with the water. In the process of coagulation, the alum neutralizes surface charges on particulate matter contained in the water and forms a fluffy precipitate (floc) that entraps suspended algae and clay particles. The water is then stirred slowly in flocculation tanks to allow floc particles to become larger and denser prior to their removal.

  • step 4

    The floc-bearing water then flows through clarifiers, where most (more than 95%) of the floc with its entrapped impurities is allowed to settle by gravity to the bottom while clear water is constantly removed from the top. Settled floc is removed from the clarifiers as sludge and pumped to holding lagoons where it is further separated into clear water (returned to the lake) and solid sludge (removed for disposal).

  • step 5

    Any floc that was not removed by clarification is separated in the filtration stage. Water is passed through mixed-media filters consisting of a top layer of coarse anthracite followed by successive layers of fine silica sand, and even finer garnet sand. Any remaining particulate matter or floc is trapped by the filters. Filters are cleaned by backwashing with clean water. The filtration step completes the removal of particulate impurities. The removal of dissolved organic impurities, which are responsible for taste and odour, is accomplished next in the carbon adsorption stage of treatment.

  • step 6

    Large rectangular tanks (contactors) contain Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) to a depth of 3 metres. Water is lifted by Archimedes screw pumps from the bottom of the filters and taken to the top of the contactors where it is allowed to flow by gravity down through the GAC. GAC contains many microscopic pores which adsorb dissolved chemical impurities. Water is in contact with the GAC for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on flow rates, and emerges freed of the dissolved organic materials which cause objectionable taste and odour. The GAC filtration process at Buffalo Pound was designed for taste and odour removal and is used during periods of poor taste and odour in the raw water; the normal period of operation is from May until December.