Photo: An illustration of how Ottawa River water is treated to make it safe for consumers. Click on the pic for a larger view.
More than 100 of the city’s most interesting buildings were open to the public on the weekend at the annual Doors Open Ottawa event.
Two of the buildings that attracted the public’s attention were the Lemieux Island Water Purification Plant and the Fleet Street Pumping Station. In addition to being of architectural and historical interest, these buildings house important city infrastructure.
Guided tours of both facilities were offered to the public and many took advantage of them to learn more about our water supply, how it is treated and how it is delivered throughout the city.
The water purification plant situated on Lemieux Island was opened in 1932 – at the height of the Depression. There is nothing depressing about the building, however. Brass and marble fixtures are everywhere, and the various expansions and modernizations have not taken away from the beauty of the building or the island.
In the middle of the river, at a depth of 40 feet, a large intake pipe brings water into the plant where it is treated to make it potable. The whole process takes between six to eight hours.
The potable water is then pumped at low pressure to the nearby Fleet Street Pumping Station where it is pumped at high pressure (85 PSI) to the downtown core and the eastern part of the city. The pumping station was built in 1874 and uses five pumps that are run by turbines in the aqueduct underneath the building.
A second water treatment plant in Britannia takes care of Ottawa west and outlying areas.
The two water treatment plants can produce approximately 700 megalitres of clean drinking water per day. The average daily demand is about 300 megalitres.
Ottawa is lucky when it comes to water. The Ottawa River watershed is large (146,000 square kilometres) and is able to provide drinking water to more than 1.5 million people.
That is not to say the river is without problems. Ottawa Riverkeeper maintains a list of issues it is monitoring on its website.
According to the City of Ottawa’s website, Ottawa was the second city in North America to host a Doors Open event, which is based on a successful European model.
Each year, visitors hear first-hand the remarkable stories that have shaped the National Capital region. As Ottawa’s largest heritage and architectural event, Doors Open has recorded nearly 400,000 visits since it began in 2002.
Photo: Pumping potable water from the Fleet Street Pumping Station to the downtown core and the east end of the city.