Canadian Consulting Engineer


June 1, 2001
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

COCHRANE ENGINEERINGA consulting engineer in joint venture with a developer will be operating the Cartier Regional water supply system for 20 years.Bill Brant, P.Eng., of Cochrane Engineering in Winni...


A consulting engineer in joint venture with a developer will be operating the Cartier Regional water supply system for 20 years.

Bill Brant, P.Eng., of Cochrane Engineering in Winnipeg proudly tells how his company “stepped out of the box” when it took on a special project in 1998. The consulting engineers have decades of experience of designing regional water supply systems, but with the Cartier regional water supply project, they joined forces with a real estate developer and not only designed and built the system, but also became its manager and operator.

Cochrane’s specially formed joint-venture company, CWP, won the design-build contract from the Manitoba Water Services Board in a fixed price proposal. The 50/50 joint venture is with Shelter Canadian Properties.

Brant says that this kind of project is “far more satisfying for an engineer” than simply doing design because it involves them in so many new areas. The engineers developed the concept for the water supply system, had a hand in obtaining the initial financing, and they retain an ongoing interest in the system’s operation. The joint venture company is now two years into a 20-year contract under which it will operate the system for the Board. The Board pays the company an annual management fee, which is funded by users through water metering. Shelter leaves the day-to-day operations of the system to Cochrane, with Alf Poetker, P.Eng. in charge. There are two full-time operators who manage the system using SCADA and who were hired half-way through construction so that they are familiar with the system from the “ground up.”

Acting as the design-builder meant a big difference to Cochrane when they were bidding for the job. For example, the company had to bear the costs for preparing the proposal, with only a guarantee of receiving the $25,000 stipend for unsuccessful bidders. There was, though, an advantage in that they could use experienced contractors that they knew had the right skills. In the conventional bidding process, the contractor would have been selected by price.

The $10 million project has provided a new water supply system for four rural municipalities between Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg. Previously, many in these communities had to rely on low-quality, low-supply aquifers and dugouts. Since it opened in April 1999, the new system can deliver 4.5 million litres of water a day, with an option to expand to 14 million litres a day. The core of the system is a water treatment plant near St. Eustache. It incorporates an intake from the Assiniboine River, pre-oxidation, cold lime softening, clarification, filtration, disinfection and fluoridation. As well, there is a raw water storage pond that can be used when the river water is not up to par.

The design-builders constructed 100 kilometres of transmission pipelines to connect the new plant to existing plants at Oakville, Elie, St. Eustache and the Headingley Correctional Institute. These plants now serve as reservoirs and pumping stations for the local community distribution systems. CCE

Client: CWP (joint venture of Cochrane Group and Shelter Canadian Properties), Cartier Regional Water Cooperative, Manitoba Water Services Board

Prime consultant: Cochrane Engineering (Alf Poetker, P.Eng., Bill Brant, P.Eng., Jeff O’Driscoll, P.Eng., Boris Kirshner, Mike Matview, Jim Hobbs)

Structural: Boge & Boge


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