Friday, November 15, 2019

Confirmed: Fleet Street uses water to pump water

I'd like to correct the record.

On October 1 of this year, while attending a drop-in Open House about the City of Ottawa's plans to rehabilitate the Booth Street heritage bridge (more on that to come in a future blog post), a City representative mentioned offhandedly that the Fleet Street water pumping station had been converted to electric pumps "decades ago", like in the 1950s.

One of the LeBreton Flats residents in attendance, echoing the sentiment of many, expressed dismay that he'd been telling people for years that it was a water-powered water pumping station. I, myself, had made this claim in my 2012 blog post 3D Through the Aqueduct (part 2).

While still at the Open House, I did a quick Google search on my phone, and found only unsubstantiated claims. A City employee working on a project about one of the aqueduct's bridges is a pretty compelling authority. My next step was to send out a Tweet calling on the crowdsourcing power of Twitter to confirm or deny these electric claims.

That yielded nothing conclusive. There was a City report describing the pumping station as water-powered, but that report was prepared by the Councillor's office, not the water department.

I eventually (Oct 17) emailed Councillor McKenney, who sent the request down the bureaucratic ladder, and the very next day I got this wonderfully clear and detailed response from Paul Montgomery of the City's water department. (Emphasis added, slightly edited).
Mr. Akben-Marchand,

There are five water turbine powered centrifugal pumps at the Fleet Street pumping station; all are still used and in service. A small amount of electrical power is required, for automated controls, lighting and such, but the primary sources of motive power for the station's installed pumps is water and, of course, gravity.

Many people incorrectly assume that we use the river, at Fleet Street, to drive generators which would then drive electric motors and, in turn, to drive pumps. Rather, we use water powered turbines to drive mechanical gear boxes / speed increases to then directly drive the installed pumps.

Approximately 20m3/s of Ottawa River water flows, through a headworks control gate structure located along the shore of Nepean Bay, through the covered Aqueduct below the former Ottawa Street, to the Fleet Street Pumping Station and then down through the turbines. The approximate head, across the turbines, is 27 feet.

Treated drinking water flows by gravity, through a large buried watermain from the Lemieux Island Water Treatment Plant, to supply the five pumps at Fleet. At full capacity, the Fleet Street pumping station can supply approximately 200ML/day to the City.


M. Paul Montgomery, P. Eng.
Plant Manager, Water Production - East
Water Services, PWES

That settles that! I publish it here for posterity, and for the next person who hears rumours of the plant's electrification!

By the way, that "200ML/day" refers to Megalitres per day, or 200,000,000 litres! I discussed the underground Ottawa Street aqueduct in this 2012 blog post.

LeBreton Flats updates/errata

On the topic of corrections and updates, here are some to some previous blog posts about LeBreton Flats:
  • In the 2012 post, 3D Thursday: 3D through the aqueduct, part 2 of 2, I didn't know the purpose of the wooden bracing on the Fleet Street Pumping Station building. A CBC Ottawa News video from 2013 says that the City was doing repairs to cracks that developed on both the pumping station and Pooley's Bridge following blasting at the site of nearby condo development on Lett Street.
  • The tree featured in the 2014 post, The Lonely Elm was cut down in Winter 2014-2015 (literally: the two nearest photos showing the tree present and absent were on 2014-12-21 and 2015-03-28). The price of progress for LRT and, it would seem from aerial photos, the Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel (CSST) access shaft.
  • Also in the Lonely Tree post, I referred to a section of Wellington Street as "Old Wellington", which was incorrect. It would have just been "Wellington".

I actually have a number of LeBreton Flats related blog posts in various stages of development that I hope to publish soon, including the results of quite a bit of research about Wellington Streets.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Monday, August 20, 2018

Chinatown double-flyover

I found this well-timed photo as I was catching up on sorting my significant backlog of photos. Looking up at the corner of Somerset Street West and Booth Street, the sky is divided by the traffic signal arms. In the left quadrant is a gull, and in the right quadrant is a low-flying Air Canada jet:

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Monday, February 19, 2018

That time I was on the Skate Patrol for ten years (Family Day finale)

Today is Family Day and the last day of Winterlude, which makes for a good place to finish my series about my time as a member of the Rideau Canal Skate Patrol. You may want to first read part 1 and part 2.

Starting in 2011, the NCC wanted a skate patroller to be up on the ground level for the annual flag-raising ceremony which marks the official opening of the canal, and I was that skate patroller. I wasn't in the scrum during the actual flag-raising, instead I stepped back to take a video of the flag raising. I believe this one was take 2, because some of the media photographers missed the flag going up the pole the first time:

I then posed for some photos, including this one with an Ice Hog mascot (think groundhog, but with ice) and someone who was introduced to me as a dignitary from the insurance company that sponsored the skate patrol that year:

Sunday, February 4, 2018

That time I was on the Skate Patrol for ten years (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this three-part series, I explained how I got my start on the Rideau Canal Skate Patrol. I left off in 2009, the year after we got new neon yellowish-green jackets. Here I am in said jacket at my favourite Ottawa footbridge:

2009 was a year with many changes, and not just the Obama bandwagon that Beavertails jumped on:

Saturday, February 3, 2018

That time I was on the Skate Patrol for ten years (Part 1)

The 40th edition of Ottawa's Winterlude festival has opened this weekend, and its crown jewel, the Rideau Canal Skateway, is enjoying a good season. This year has had the earliest start in four years, after a record short 18 skating days in 2016 and 25 skating days in 2017.

The official @NCC_Skateway Twitter account often posts tidbits about the skateway, for example, a tweet mentioning that there is a team of 60 skate patrollers on the canal.

As it happens, I served on the Rideau Canal Skate Patrol for ten years, and I've been meaning to write about it. Now that I've been off the patrol for a while, it's time for me to come out of the shadows...

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Lifecycle of a pothole

The 2006-2007 reconstruction of Bank Street between Wellington and Laurier is the first major road reconstruction projects I photographed, albeit much less than subsequent ones. These multi-million-dollar reconstructions are designed to revitalize the underground infrastructure beneath our streets to last for decades to come. The surface situation can be a different story, however.

I took interest in one particular manhole cover at Bank and Slater, and took photos of it every now and then as I passed by the location on my bike, and so begins our story...

In June 2007, the sidewalks were finished and the tree pits installed outside the former location of the Shopper's Drug Mart in what is now called the Jack Layton Building. The roadway, meanwhile, was still in gravel:

In early September 2007, the first lift of asphalt was laid down. Of the stores visible in this photo, the Moores and the Money Mart are still there, the GNC and Blue Gardenia having closed since.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

3D Thursday: Hangar Doors Open Ottawa @avspacemuseum

This coming weekend, June 6 and 7, 2015, is Doors Open Ottawa, an annual festival where the public gets the chance to look behind usually-closed doors—for free! There are 22 new buildings this year, including the Canadian Nurses' Association headquarters, CNA House, at 50 the Driveway in Centretown.

Outside Centretown, but also new this year, is the Canada Aviation and Space Museum's Reserve Hangar, where they store all the airplanes and stuff that doesn't fit on the museum floor. Put on your 3D glasses and turn up your screen brightness and check out these aircraft photos!

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

The above photo is from inside the museum itself, which isn't part of the free tour (but it's a great photo, isn't it?). All the other photos in this post are from a tour I had the fortune to attend a couple of months ago.

In the photo below, immediately behind the tour group is a wooden full-scale model of a forward fuselage for Bombardier's CSeries aircraft.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ash to ashes...

The Emerald Ash Borer beetle is continuing its destruction of a significant portion of Ottawa's urban canopy, and Centretown isn't escaping it either.

On Percy Street, at the CCOC's housing development at the former Percy Street School, a row of ash trees are marked for removal. Someone has added cloth signs to the tree trunks, including this one that says "That ash is boring me to death!"

From the ground, these mature Ash trees don't look too bad. Lots of leaves left...

But from across the street it's clear that the trees' days are numbered.

The City has some useful information about the EAB on its website at