Guelph tracking aqueduct through Puslinch

ABERFOYLE – The City of Guelph is on a bit of a hunt, not for buried treasure, but for a buried aqueduct in Puslinch Township.
City representatives met with Puslinch council on Nov. 21 to explain the exact location of the aqueduct is unclear.
Emily Stahl, a manager with Guelph’s water department, outlined upcoming maintenance activities to the “middle reach” section of the aqueduct, which extends south from the Arkell spring ground west of Watson Road to the FM Woods pumping station near the city.
Stahl, who clarified the city owns the land on which the aqueduct runs, said the idea is to begin work in 2019, beginning with an inspection.
“But to do that we have to do some significant work to gain access to the property,” she said, adding there will be significant challenges to that work.
The 1.4km section of concrete gravity pipe runs from Arkell Road through Cooks Mill Road to the Barber Scout Camp by Stone Road.
She then directed council’s attention to a mapped area “where we believe the aqueduct goes.”
“The middle reach was constructed around 1962 and is the least understood section of our aqueduct that we own today,” said Stahl, stressing the need for the inspection.
“This aqueduct provides 60% to 80% of the city’s water supply on a daily basis.”
Stahl said the aqueduct has been updated in various stages over the past decade.
She told council the city wants to “inspect and understand the condition” of the middle reach portion, which she called “a critical piece of infrastructure for the city.”
She stressed, “It is important to mitigate any potential risk.”
To do this, the city needs to build a laneway to access the aqueduct for inspection and required repairs, Stahl said.
“This is obviously going to have an impact on potential neighbours backing onto the aqueduct property,” Stahl said.
She added the work will also help the city devise a long-term maintenance strategy and plan.
Photos show the aqueduct traversing a wooded area currently used for trails and wildlife.
As this will be a longer- term project, Stahl said a website is being developed to keep residents informed, in addition to local signs.
As necessary, additional fencing may be required, Stahl said, noting pre-construction activities have begun.
Work over the winter will include removal of some of trees and brush to complete a proper survey and the use of an aerial drone to map the entire area.
Councillor John Sepulis asked if the city had considered alternate routes for its aqueduct.
Stahl said consideration is being given in the city’s water management plan.
Councillor Ken Roth was pleased there will be communication with adjacent property owners, including contacts for city officials.
Councillor Matthew Bulmer asked about trails on the property.
Stahl said there is at least one trail connecting to Cooks Mill Road from the Barber Scout Camp, noting, “We have been in discussions with the trail group.”
Bulmer then asked, “If the property is overgrown with trees, could the roots of the trees have invaded the concrete pipe?”
Stahl agreed this is a concern, which is why the inspection is so important.
Mayor Dennis Lever added township officials knew the aqueduct existed, but they too did not know its exact location. He asked if the city owns enough property to build an access road.
Stahl said there is enough space, but she noted it may not end up looking like a traditional road.
“We need to keep construction away from the aqueduct – we don’t want heavy equipment on top of it,” she explained.