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PEMAC GTA Chapter tours R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant

PEMAC’s GTA Chapter held its August 21 meeting at the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant in Toronto. More than 65 people registered for the event, which featured a presentation and a tour of the facility with plant manager Gordon Mitchell, P.Eng., Manager, Water Treatment & Supply.


The water treatment facility was constructed in the 1930s and has been declared a national historic civil engineering site, said Mitchell. The plant, which produces about a third of Toronto’s water, has a very large capacity (rated to 950 million litres per day) and produces about half of capacity or less than that (that is 450 million litres or less per day). 

“Water demand in the City of Toronto – as with many cities in North America – has plateaued because people are using water responsibly,” says Mitchell. But while water production has levelled off, the facility has the capacity to meet Toronto’s emergency needs, as well as to meet the needs of consumers for everyday use.

Key Performance Indicators
According to Mitchell, some of the key measurements that drive the success of the facility include:

  • Managing adverse water quality incidents and compliance with regulations. “Our target for that is zero incidents – we’ve met that for several years.”
  • Since the facility is required to operate in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner, the amount of electricity used per megalitre of water produced and dollar per megalitre of water produced is closely monitored. “The biggest cost we have here is hydro. People are the second biggest cost, and chemical supplies, maintenance, parts, equipment are also a big cost. So we have to ensure we control all of our costs and respect our ratepayers – because that’s who we work for.”
  • The facility measures the percentage of legislated work that complies with regulations. “The target is 100 per cent, which we meet every month. Related to this is how well the team performs in getting work done while maintaining equipment. And another is how much non-regulated work is performed, which also has a high target of 80 per cent. We typically go over 90 per cent on that one. The work that we defer are typically deferred because equipment is not available or accessible for some reason.”
  • Finally, the balance between planned work, predictive work and unplanned, emergency work is monitored. “We look at finding a balance. Our target is 80 per cent; we attain about 73 per cent.”

From a philosophical standpoint, Mitchell says that customer service is key in meeting his team’s goals. “It is where it all begins and ends – it means protecting the environment, protecting people’s health and safety, protecting the water supply and protecting their pocketbook… Our guiding philosophy is protecting our customers and serving them better.”

For information about future PEMAC events, visit www.pemac.org.
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