With the city sitting on the edge of a large lake, a city water supply system didn't seem necessary in the early days. Up until the mid 1950s, various City Councils arranged for a succession of water haulers to take water from the lake (actually from the Meadow River that flows out of the lake) and sell it door-to-door by the pail or tank. Sometimes ice was used as a water supply as well.
With the amount of complaining that the water haulers did, and the amount done by their customers, City Councillors were often discussing the water supply.
By 1954, when the population had grown to around 2,400, more thought was being put into a better way of doing things. At a Council meeting in May (1954), the chairman of the provincial government's Local Government Board said he was in favour of towns over a population of 1,000 having a water and sewer system, but he thought Meadow Lake was unique in "not having the right type of water", and that there was "a difficult sewage problem".
Also, since the city was scattered over a large area, and lot sizes were often large, installing a system would be expensive for the city and for property owners.
He suggested that the city could probably afford to install a water supply system, or a sewage system, but not both. And if the water supply was installed first, then the city would need 300 customers in order to make the system profitable.
City Council didn't think they could get 300 homes and businesses to hook into the water system, so they opted to install a storm sewer system, and spend a little money on building a fire hall and buying some fire fighting equipment.
However, the water supply was soon back on Council's agenda. In April 1957, a public vote was taken regarding the construction of a water and sewer system and 216 people voted for it, 25 voted against. This was when the number of eligible voters would have been over 1,200 but Council accepted the result of the vote.
So, in 1958, Council retained Underwood, McLellan and Associates to design a system. At that time, water haulers were charging 10 cents for a pail of water, or 15 cents for two pails, 55 cents for a barrel of water, and $3.50 for a tank.
The new water treatment plant had its official opening on May 14, 1959. It even warranted on-the-scene radio coverage, as shown in this photograph.
The plant has seen many updates and expansions, with the most recent being in 2005-2006. It can serve a population of 10,000 (including the Flying Dust First Nation). Current consumption averages 2,000 cubic metres per day.
Treatment consists of an actiflo clarifier, gravity filters and chlorine disinfection. Three water samples are sent to an accredited lab for analysis once a week, plus daily sampling is also done. Additional sampling is also done as per the City's permit to operate. Details are in the Water Qualilty Report to the right.
There are three raw water reservoirs next to the water plant that are in use. These can store several months water supply, and there is an additional storage capacity of one million gallons that can be used for fire fighting and other emergencies. An 85,000 gallon water tower supplies the necessary tap pressure with backup pumps.
Sewage collection and treatment consists of three lift stations, coarse screening building, two aerated cells, two treatment cells, and two holding cells and the cattails, all designed to serve a population of 8,000.