As North Americans, it’s easy for us to see water glisten and gleam, and to assume when we turn a faucet it will instantly flow. Many people may be accustomed to safe water being readily available whenever we need it, but for about 2.2 billion people in the world, this simply is not the case. Water plays a vital role in the lives of everyone, but it can mean something different; it’s a livelihood, a cultural practice and a source of wellbeing.

For PCL, water means community and commitment. It means enriching the communities where we live and work through access to safe, clean water and improved infrastructure. Let’s dive in for a behind the scenes look at our projects and your water’s journey. 

At the beginning, drinking water starts out in its rawest form. From reservoirs, lakes, rivers and even the ground, water travels to local pumphouses, like the City of Prince Albert Raw Water Pumphouse, or to full treatment water plants, like the Town of Gillam Water Treatment Plant & Associated Works. No matter the location, the water starts on an epic four-part journey to become clean, healthy and safe drinking water.

When water reaches a treatment plant, it starts the process of coagulation, or clotting, and flocculation. During these stages, the raw liquid is mixed with positive charged chemicals which neutralizes the negative charge of dirt or other dissolved particles that may be present. When this happens, these small particles bind together to form larger particles, called floc. 

Just as a flock of birds sticks together, so do floc particles. In the next stage of sedimentation, these elements settle to the bottom of the water column to be removed.

The clean water then moves on to the next stage – filtration. The Lake Manatee Water Treatment Plant is home to one of the largest ultrafiltration retrofits in North America and processes nearly 54 million gallons of water per day. Through ultrafiltration membrane technology, the plant effectively passes water through filters of varying compositions, including sand, gravel and charcoal. Numerous pore sizes are also used to remove smaller particles like dust, bacteria or chemicals.

The final phase of the water treatment process is disinfection. This step is critical to destroy pathogens and results in certified safe drinking water. From there, the water travels to homes, businesses, hotels, airports, public spaces and everywhere in between.

However, did you know: this is not the only water process happening in our communities? Aside from drinking water or potable water, wastewater has its own unique and complex journey to facilities like the San Luis Obispo Water Resource Recovery Facility.

Now, back to your faucet, which hopefully means something even more to you now after learning the ins-and-outs of your water’s journey.

On World Water Day and every day, join us in celebrating Earth’s most valuable resource and raising awareness of the billions of people living without access to clean water. As part of this effort, we are donating to Engineers in Action, an organization that helps communities across Latin American prosper through building safe footbridges, eco latrines and access to sanitary drinking water. To learn more and to get involved, please visit World Water Day, Water for People, Engineers in Action and Engineers Without Borders